LB / LB

Randy Gradishar

Class of 2008

In 1974, following an outstanding career at Ohio State, linebacker Randy Gradishar was drafted in the first round of the National Football League draft by the Denver Broncos. He quickly became the foundation upon which the Broncos built their imposing "Orange Crush" defense.

During his 10 seasons with the Broncos, Gradishar was named to seven Pro Bowls, a team record at the time of his retirement. He was also named first- or second-team All-Pro six times, first- or second-team All-AFC seven times, and was voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1978 by the AP, Pro Football Weekly, and NEA.

A dominant player, he first caught national attention when he returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown during a nationally televised game in 1975. Even more attention, however, was focused on the former Academic All-America in 1977 as the Broncos defense held its opponents to an AFC-best average of just 10 points per game. That year the team finished 12-2 and represented the AFC in Super Bowl XII. In 1978, behind the Broncos Orange Crush defense the team again captured the AFC Western Division crown.

The all-time leader in tackles (2,049) for the Broncos, Gradishar never missed a game, playing in 145 consecutive matches. He led all Broncos defenders in tackles nine consecutive years, including his final season in 1983. He accounted for 33 turnovers during his career, on 20 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries. In 1980, against the Cleveland Browns, he returned an interception a team-record 93 yards for a touchdown. It was one of the four career touchdowns he scored. Twice his teammates voted him defensive MVP, first in 1978 then again in 1980.

In 1983, after 10 seasons of play, four of which the team advanced to the playoffs, Gradishar, after one final Pro Bowl appearance, decided to go out on top and announced his retirement at the relatively young age of 31.

Year Team
G
Int
Yds
Avg
TD
1974 Denver
14
0
0
0
0
1975 Denver
14
3
77
25.7
1
1976 Denver
14
3
44
14.7
1
1977 Denver
14
3
56
18.7
0
1978 Denver
16
4
19
4.8
0
1979 Denver
16
0
0
0
0
1980 Denver
16
2
96
48
1
1981 Denver
16
4
38
9.5
0
1982 Denver
9
0
0
0
0
1983 Denver
16
1
5
5
0
Career Total  
145
20
335
16.8
3
Additional Career Statistics: Fumble Return for TD: 1

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