Tom Nalen Enters the Ring of Fame

By PFC Blogger Lon Anderson

Last month,  Mr. Bowlen announced that long-time Broncos center Tom Nalen would become the 24th member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame. Nalen was born in Foxborough and was the top lineman at Boston College.  Because of his size, he slipped to the 7th round, where Denver selected him 218th overall in 1994 draft.  Alex Gibbs, the Broncos’ o-line coach, had a preference for quicker, slimmer lineman over the beef that was in vogue at the time.  The line, anchored by Nalen and Hall of Famer Gary Zimmerman, paved the way for Terrell Davis to become a superstar and for John Elway to earn two Super Bowl rings. As impressive as the Super Bowl run from 1995 to 1998 was, Nalen’s most impressive accomplishments came after Elway retired.  With a limited Brian Griese at quarterback, Nalen and his line-mates led the way for 1159 yards for Olandis Gary in ’99, 1487 yards for Mike Anderson in ’00 (and Rookie of the Year), and 1508 for Clinton Portis in ’02 (and Rookie of the Year).

 

After Jake Plummer arrived, the line continued its dominance, paving the way for 1591 yards for Portis in ’03, 1240 yards for Reuben Droughns in ’04, 1014 yards for Anderson and 921 yards for beeper salesman Tatum Bell (and an appearance in the AFC title game) in ’05 and 1025 yards for Bell in ’06. In 2007, noted fatherhood expert Travis Henry led the league in rushing through the first four games of the season.  In the first quarter of a Week 5 game against the Chargers, Nalen suffered a torn triceps muscle.  Henry’s stats and the Broncos’ season subsequently went down the tubes. Nalen had hoped to recover and play during the 2008 season but it was not to be.  He officially retired on January 6, 2009.  Somewhat ironically, after being part of a group that refused to talk to the media, Nalen now hosts a radio show in the Denver area.  He has ambition to get into coaching at some point. He was named NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2003 and was named to the Broncos 50th anniversary team.  He was clearly an important cog in the line that led Denver to two championships.  My most vivid memory of Nalen is probably Super Bowl XXXII, when he and the rest of the line dominated Hall of Famer Reggie White and The Gravedigger Gilbert Brown. By the end of the game, White and Brown were gassed and the Broncos were champions.

He will be inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame during halftime of the Week #4 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.  It is a well-deserved honor.

Lon Anderson

Denver Broncos Fan since 1977

Twitter handle: @landers07