After waiting 16 years to be elected, and one more year because of Covid 19, Former Broncos Safety Steve Atwater was enshrined in Canton, Ohio at The Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was joined on stage by the rest of his 2020 modern era class and 12 other members of the “Centennial Class” of The Hall who were also elected in 2020 as part of the 100th year of the NFL.
As he’s said a few times in recent weeks, “The Smiling Assassin” reiterated in his speech that he didn’t mind the delay before taking his rightful place in football’s most prestigious fraternity, “it was a long wait, but it was worth it.”
Atwater’s speech was filled mostly with thank you’s for the people who mean the most to him from Coaches and Teammates to support staff, and of course friends and family.
He even managed to thank his “radio partners” who always referred to him as “Future Hall of Famer!”
Regarded as one of the toughest and hardest-hitting safeties in league history, Atwater played the first 10 seasons of his 11-year career with the Broncos after being selected by the club in the first round (20th overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft from the University of Arkansas.
Atwater was voted to a franchise record-tying seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 1990-96, and his eight career Pro Bowl selections are the second most by a player in Broncos history.
A first-team selection for the 1990s NFL All-Decade Team as chosen by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, Atwater received All-Pro recognition three times (first-team – 1991-92; second-team 1996) by the Associated Press. During his 10 seasons with the franchise, Atwater helped the Broncos win the third-most total games (109) in the NFL. His teams made six playoff appearances and won four AFC West Division titles during that stretch.
In 167 career regular-season games (166 starts), Atwater totaled 1,357 tackles (857 solo), 24 interceptions (408 yds.), five sacks (34 yds.), 13 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries. He recorded at least 100 tackles in each of his first eight NFL seasons, finishing first or second on the team in defensive stops in seven of his 10 years with the Broncos.
Atwater also started 14 postseason games for the Broncos—the second most in team history—and contributed 54 tackles (38 solo), one interception and one sack. One of just three Broncos (QB John Elway, CB/S Tyrone Braxton) who started Super Bowls for the team in both the 1980s and 1990s, Atwater played in four conference championship games and was part of 10 postseason wins.
Atwater's full Hall of Fame induction speech is below.
It’s a big weekend for Broncos Country as tomorrow former Safety John Lynch and Quarterback Peyton Manning will be enshrined as part of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.
Click on the picture below to watch Steve Atwater's full induction speech on Saturday, August 7, 2021.