Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gary Zimmerman

Gary Zimmerman was inducted into the Ring of Fame in 2003. An offensive tackle wearing #65 and protecting John Elway's blind side for 5 seasons, Gary was recently elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He will be inducted in August, 2008. Gary was named to 7 Pro Bowls and was named to the All- Decade Team for both the 1980s and 1990s.

Gary Zimmerman was one of the most respected offensive linemen in the National Football League as he played through several excruciating injuries during his career and helped Denver win it's first Super Bowl in 1997. He played in and started all 184 games in his 12-year career and was a major reason that Denver’s offense was able to post prolific totals over the course of the 1995-96 seasons. He had a streak of 169 consecutive starts before being forced to the sideline at Green Bay (12/8/96) following surgery on his left shoulder. A consummate professional year in and year out, he was been named All-NFL four times (1986-88, 1996), NFL Lineman of the Year in 1987, and second-team All-NFL of the 1980s. The tackle was also named to the All-Decade Teams for the 1980s and 1990s. He is one of only 10 players in the history of the game to have been named to consecutive All-Decade Teams. Zimmerman was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Experss of the United States Football League (2nd round, 36th overall) in 1984, and played two seasons with the club before joining the Minnesota Vikings in 1986. He had been chosen by the New York Giants in the first round of the 1984 supplemental draft, third overall, and then had his rights traded to Minnesota for two second-round picks (CB Mark Collins and S Greg Lasker).
1997: Zimmerman missed the first two games of the season before re-signing with the club Sept. 9. He started at right tackle in the first four games after his return and switched to left tackle before the Oakland game (10/19). In Week 3 vs. St. Louis he started at right tackle and played most of the first half in his first game since re-signing. He also saw some action at left tackle after Tony Jones left the game with an ankle injury.
1997 Postseason: Zimmerman started all four postseason games at left tackle as part of an offensive line that dominated opponents and allowed Denver to control games with its powerful rushing attack. The Broncos averaged 187 yards per game on the ground in the playoffs, and the offensive line was named NFL Offensive Player of the Week for the Wild Card weekend.
1996: Zimmerman started all 14 games in which he played, including the first 13 of the season to run his streak of consecutive starts to 169. That streak was snapped at Green Bay (12/8) when he was declared inactive following surgery on his left shoulder. He played with pain in both shoulders during the course of the season, but was still voted to his seventh Pro Bowl (third as a Bronco) and earned first-team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, Football Digest and College & Pro Football Newsweekly. Zimmerman also earned first-team All-AFC nods from UPI and Football News. His streak of 169 consecutive starts made him the only active player in the NFL to have started every game since the beginning of the 1986 season.
1995: Zimmerman started all 16 games at left tackle, earning his second straight Pro Bowl selection, and the sixth of his career. He suffered a shoulder and biceps injury at Houston (11/26), but started the next week against Jacksonville (12/3) despite not practicing much during the week. He also started with a sore ankle against Washington (9/17) in Denver’s 38-31 last-second victory. Zimmerman had off-season surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff and torn biceps in his right shoulder on January 15, 1996. The surgery was performed by Dr. Richard Hawkins at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colo.
1994: Zimmerman did not miss a game as the starter at left tackle, and was one of the few bright spots on an offensive line that struggled at times. He was recognized for his outstanding play with selection to the Pro Bowl, his fifth such selection.
1993: Zimmerman was acquired by the Broncos in a trade with Minnesota prior to the last preseason game in 1993 and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup. He started every game at left tackle for the Broncos, solidifying an offensive line that allowed time for quarterback John Elway to post career numbers. He was a major factor in the success of the Broncos offensive line, and was named an alternate for the Pro Bowl.
1992: Zimmerman was named to the Pro Bowl as a starter, his first trip since 1989.
1991: Zimmerman anchored a Minnesota line that helped the Vikings lead the NFC in rushing.
1990: Zimmerman started all 16 games despite being hampered by various injuries. He underwent surgery on his ankle and elbow at the end of that season.
1987-'89: In 1989 Zimmerman was selected to his third Pro Bowl appearance. The other two appearances were in 1988 and 1987.
1986: Zimmerman earned All-NFL honors for Minnesota in his first season in the league. He was originally obtained by the Giants in the first-round of the 1984 supplemental draft, third overall, and then had his rights traded to Minnesota for two second-round picks (CB Mark Collins and S Greg Lasker) in the 1986 draft.
1984-'85: He began his pro career as a second-round pick, 36th overall, by the Los Angeles Express of the USFL in 1984.

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