Bronco Legends-”The Snow Goose”

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Karl Mecklenburg

Karl Mecklenburg was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 12th round (310th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft and the Chicago Blitz in the 21st round of the USFL Draft in 1983. He opted to sign with Denver and it was a wise choice. Mecklenburg played his entire 12 season career in a Bronco uniform.

Known as “The Snow Goose” or “Albino Rhino,” Karl was an essential component of the Broncos’ Super Bowl teams of the 1980s, playing above and beyond his draft selection. He helped Denver to 7 postseason appearances (1983-84, ‘86-87, ‘89, ‘91, ‘93), 5 division titles (1984, ‘86-87, ‘89, ‘91) and 3 Super Bowl berths (XXI in 1986, XXII in ‘87, XXIV in ‘89). Karl started 141 of 180 total games in Denver.

While drafted as a Linebacker, he is listed as Defensive End, Left Inside Linebacker and Middle Linebacker. The fact of the matter is however, that “Meck” played all 7 Defensive front positions, sometimes all 7 in one game. He played standing up and with his hand in the dirt, wherever a mismatch could be found. Karl harassed many NFL Quarterbacks as witnessed by his 79 career Sacks. His season high 13 Sacks in 1985 were a franchise record at the time.

He recorded 11 multiple-sack games and is the only player in team annals to record 4 Sacks in a game twice in his career. Karl registered 1,118 Tackles, including a career and team-high 143 stops in 1989. He also made 5 Interceptions, Forced 16 Fumbles, Recovered 14 Fumbles (returning 2 for Touchdowns) and recorded one Safety in his time as a Bronco.

Since retiring from pro football in 1995, Karl divides his time between motivational speaking and his ongoing charity involvements.

  • 6-Time Pro Bowler (1985-87, 1989, 1991, 1993)

  • 4-Time Newspaper Enterprise Assn. (NEA) 1st-team All-Pro (1985, 1986, 1987, 1989)

  • 3-Time 1st-Team All-Pro (1985, 1986, 1989)

  • 1-Time 2nd-Team All-Pro (1987)

  • 5 consecutive 100+ Tackle seasons (6 total)

  • 8 seasons with 7 or more Quarterback Sacks

  • Broncos Ring of Fame (2001)

  • Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (2001)

42 Linebackers were taken in the 1983 NFL Draft and Karl was drafted behind 39 of them. Of these 42, Mecklenburg was the only All-Pro, one of four who made the Pro Bowl and one of two who was a Primary starter for 10 or more seasons.

There were 298 Linebackers drafted between 1980-85. Four Linebackers from that time period are in the Hall Of Fame–Lawrence Taylor, Mike Singletary, Andre Tippett and Rickey Jackson. Mecklenburg’s numbers are compatible with these four guys.

All Pro Seasons:

  • 1) Lawrence Taylor (HOF) NYG – 8

  • 2) Mike Singletary (HOF) CHI – 7

  • 3) Karl Mecklenburg  DEN – 3

  • 4) Kevin Greene RAM – 2

  • 5) Andre Tippett  (HOF) NE – 2

  • 11) Rickey Jackson (HOF) NO – 0

 

Pro Bowl Seasons:

  • 1) Lawrence Taylor (HOF)  NYG – 10

  • 2) Mike Singletary (HOF) CHI – 10

  • 3) Rickey Jackson (HOF) NOR – 6

  • 4) Karl Mecklenburg   DEN – 6

  • 5) Kevin Greene RAM – 5

  • 6) Andre Tippett (HOF) NE  - 5

 

Career Sacks:

  • 1) Kevin Greene RAM – 160.0

  • 2) Lawrence Taylor (HOF) NYG  - 132.5

  • 3) Rickey Jackson (HOF) NO – 128.0

  • 4) Andre Tippett  (HOF) NE – 100.0

  • 5) Simon Fletcher    DEN -97.5

  • 6) Karl Mecklenburg   DEN -79.0

  • (30) Mike Singletary (HOF )  CHI – 19.0

Ten Linebackers have been inducted since Karl became eligible in 1999.

  • Lawrence Taylor – 1999

  • Dave Wilcox – 2000

  • Nick Buoniconti – 2001

  • Harry Carson – 2006

  • Andre Tippett – 2008

  • Derrick Thomas – 2009

  • Rickey Jackson – 2010

  • Les Richter – 2011

  • Chris Hanburger – 2011

  • Dave Robinson – 2013

Half of these players got in on the senior ballot. L.T., Derrick Thomas and Rickey Jackson were dominant players and very deserving of enshrinement, but guys like Nick Buoniconti and Harry Carson have no business in the HoF ahead of Mecklenburg. Carson benefited playing next to Lawrence Taylor and Buoniconti’s claim to fame is being part of the Dolphin’s perfect season.

Karl Mecklenburg was on last year’s ballot along with Kevin Greene and Clay Matthews and Greene may have the edge there, with his 160 Sacks. Derrick Brooks is eligible this year and Junior Seau will be eligible in 2014, so in my opinion, Meck’s window is closing. And with the “East Coast bias” we know exists along with the Linebacker position limited to one player per year, time is against him. Let’s not forget that Randy Gradishar should already have his bust adorning the halls of Canton.

Viva la Snow Goose and…

 

Go Broncos!

– Kaptain Kirk

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