Biography: Randy Gradishar, LB

Randy Gradishar
Former Denver Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar stands in front of a pillar bearing a bronze likeness of him, alongside those of other Bronco greats, at the unveiling ceremony for the Broncos Ring of Fame Plaza at Mile High Stadium, in Denver on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Randy Gradishar was the only Ring of Fame inductee in 1989 in recognition of his outstanding 10-year career (1974-83) at linebacker for the Broncos.

He was among the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame balloting in 2003 and 2008 as well as one of the 25 semifinalists for the Class of 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Gradishar earned seven Pro Bowl selections, a total that was the most by a Bronco at the end of his career (currently ties for fourth), and he is the Broncos’ all-time leader in tackles with 2,049. He led the Broncos in tackles for a franchise-record nine consecutive years from 1975-83 and averaged 222 tackles per season during that stretch. His 286 tackles during the 1978 campaign still stand as the Broncos’ single-season record.

Selected by the Broncos in the first round (14th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft, Gradishar never missed a game, playing in 145 in a row. He accounted for 33 turnovers (20 INTs, 13 FR) during his 10-year career, and that total tied for the fourth most by an NFL line- backer in that span. Voted the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1978 by AP, UPI, Pro Football Weekly and NEA (George Halas Award), Gradishar helped the Broncos to four playoff berths (1977-79, ‘83), two division titles (1977-78) and an appearance in Super Bowl XII during the 1977 season. His teammates also voted him defensive MVP in 1978 and ‘80. While at Ohio State, Gradishar was referred to by Head Coach Woody Hayes as “the best linebacker I ever coached at Ohio State.” A three-year starter for the Buckeyes and a consensus All-American as a senior, Gradishar received Academic All-America honors in college. He was president of the Denver Broncos Youth Foundation from 1982-92 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998.