Friday, May 24, 2013

Nalen: "We ran the same play five times"

On Wednesday, the Denver Broncos announced that former center Tom Nalen will be inducted into the team's Ring of Fame this fall.

Throughout his playing career, Nalen participated in a media ban with his fellow offensive linemen who were less than willing to give quotes to the press.

Ironically, Nalen now co-hosts his own radio show on ESPN Denver, the Les and Nalen show on 102.3 FM from 12:00-3:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Nalen, now unafraid to speak his mind, participated in a candid and humorous interview with the media on Thursday to talk about his recent Ring of Fame induction and career memories.

One of the topics was zone blocking and former offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, who was recently brought back as an offensive line consultant by the team.

“The whole zone-blocking thing is kind of crazy to me because every team has run it," Nalen said on Thursday.  "Obviously Alex had a big imprint on how many times we’d run it during the game, but to be honest, we ran the same play over and over until teams stopped it. It just happened to be a zone play."

That sounds more like high school football play calling than a sophisticated blocking scheme.  But it worked.

"There were games where we played—I think we played the Colts here in Denver, I don’t know what year, but we ran a trap like five times in a row. Yeah, we ran zone blocking a lot more than traditional powers and counters and things like that, but I guess in 1995 we started to do a lot more, yeah.”

Using that scheme (and running the same plays until defenses figured out a way to stop them), the Broncos produced eleven 1,000-yard rushers during Nalen's tenure with the team (1994-2008).

Nalen's full presser can be viewed on