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Published on 08/06/2008 at Wed Aug 06 08:27.
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Tom Nalen
Tom Nalen. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

We’ve seen the departure of Jason Elam and the retirement of Matt Lepsis and Rod Smith this off-season. And with those three departed, we were left with only one player from our last Super Bowl roster, Tom Nalen.

That’s right, of our 1998 Super Bowl team only Tom Nalen remains. John Elway and Gary Zimmerman are already in the HOF. Davis, Atwater, Mobley, McCaffrey, Sharpe, Neil, Schlereth, Romanowski, Crockett, Tanuvasa, Griffith and the rest have all retired from the game.

That leaves only Nalen. Tommy ‘Nails’ Nalen is the last man standing – and rightfully so.

However, Nalen is in his 15th year and is coming off Knee surgery that ended his season in 2007. The doctors have done all that they can and the MRI’s don’t show anything more they can do right now… but Nalen is experiencing enough pain to keep him out of practice.

As of Tuesday, Nalen has missed SEVEN straight days, and that’s a big deal. It’s not a big deal because he needs the reps, but because Nalen doesn’t stay out unless he’s hurting… bad.

“Anytime Tom stays out of practice, it is not just another injury, because it is tough to keep him out of practice.” — Mike Shanahan 8/5/08

Nalen is now 37 years old and hasn’t played ball since our Oct 7th Mile High Disaster last year. That’s 11 games he missed and word from Shanahan seems to indicate that Nalen may sit out the first few preseason games (if not all of them).

In terms of our O-line, I’m not that concerned. Shanahan was very smart to bring in Casey Wiegmann, who started the last 111 games for the Kansas City Chiefs. Wiegmann has been getting all the first team reps while Tommy is out, and as a seasoned vet I have no worries about the Center position this year.

However, as a fan of this team it saddens me to see the last tie to our Super Bowl years slipping away. I truly hope that Tom has another year or two in him. I would love to see him help us get to the playoffs this year and a Ring the next. But it seems less and less likely as the days go by without him on the field.

It’s a universal fact that all things come to an end. In Denver, ten years after our last Lombardi Trophy, we have only one man still standing. And when Tom Nalen calls it quits he will end an era.

Here’s hoping the man who’s ‘tough as nails’ has one more year in him!

  • Kyle

    He’s my all-time favorite Bronco behind Elway. Next to Mike Shanahan’s coaching (and staff), he’s the biggest reason we’re able to dominate in the run game.

    Here’s hoping he’s healthy by Week 1.

  • jvill

    You know what would make us all feel better?

    Winning another Super Bowl.

  • Jonathan Douglas

    That would certainly raise the number of players on our roster who have a SB ring. :)

  • Roy

    I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be his last year. He is one hell of a player, but I am sure that while he is sitting on the sidelines in practice he is thinking how good his couch would feel.