“Karl Mecklenburg, he’s a Hall of Famer because I’ve never seen a guy, and I’ve never heard of one, that’s in the Hall of Fame that could play inside and rush the passer.”
– Wade Phillips
One reason why Karl Mecklenburg should be in the Hall of Fame is that he was an impact player from so many positions that he was one of the most difficult players in NFL history to game plan against.
“It’s just a combination that nobody else had. He was a tremendous pass rusher,” said former Broncos defensive coordinator and head coach Wade Phillips, who coached Mecklenburg for the final six seasons of his 12-year Broncos career.
“I’ve never been around anybody that played inside ‘backer as well as he did. He was great at it. And then on third down, you’d put him outside and let him rush.”
Mecklenburg played every spot in the front seven over the course of his Broncos career — and at one point, played all spots in a single game.
“I knew he played everywhere,” teammate Gary Kubiak said. “I could remember me being in San Francisco in 1994 and him being the [middle] linebacker against us when we played them. ‘Meck’ was a great person and way a guy that came in
“It goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you’re drafted, [it’s about] the type of career you had, and boy, he had a great one.”
A six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All Pro, Mecklenburg’s versatility tends to work against him in Hall of Fame consideration. He’s never even been a finalist, although he is a perennial semifinalists.
If he had stayed at one spot, he certainly would have had more sacks than the 79.5 he compiled. As it stands, he is one of two players in NFL history with at least 70 sacks, five interceptions and over 1,000 tackles (unofficial statistic). The other, Rickey Jackson, is in the Hall of Fame, a spot in which Mecklenburg belongs.
“He could have been a defensive end all the time. His stats would have gone up where his sacks are concerned, but he made so many tackle you had to play him inside at an inside ‘backer,” Phillips said. “He was a tremendous, tremendous player and a great effort player and certainly a great person.”