John Elway was drafted in 1983 by the Baltimore Colts and then traded to the Denver Broncos after he threatened to offer his athletic skills to professional baseball. Expectations were high for the number one pick in the 1983 draft, and Elway definitely lived up to those expectations. Elway is known for his late game comebacks, and he eventually lead the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles – bringing home the MVP trophy in his last game played, Super Bowl XXXIII.
During the 16 years Elway was quarterback for the Broncos, he brought a sense of entertainment to the game that was not seen before. In addition to making sure the fans got their money’s worth, Elway’s style of play and late game heroics always filled the fans with a sense of hope.
After a lengthy, fulfilling career, Elway retired on May 2, 1999. This was a hard pill to swallow for Bronco fans, but the majority of us accepted it knowing that no job (nor players) lasts forever, especially in the NFL, and we mentally wished Elway much success in retirement. The career of John Elway and the Broncos would always be special – both in the history books and in our hearts. Life goes on, and so would the Broncos – even without Elway.
In January of 2011, Denver Bronco owner Pat Bowlen announced that his new Executive Vice President of Football Operations was none other than John Elway. Once again, John Elway was employed by the Broncos and appeared ready to turn the franchise around. The man whose name is synonymous with “Denver Bronco Football” was back. Since that exciting announcement, there has been much speculation about John’s ability to lead a team from the VP position and his knowledge of pro and college talent at all positions, etc. This Thursday night, the wait is over, and all of America will get to see the plan Elway was heavily involved in creating.
Bronco Nation is anxiously anticipating what the Broncos will do with the second pick in this year’s draft. Bronco fans want college players that can contribute immediately, but the fans also expect the team’s leadership to prove they have the knowledge to compile talent that, as a team, can produce winning seasons and ultimately, championships. Will the Broncos choose a defensive player (Marcell Dareus, Von Miller, Nick Farley or Patrick Peterson, to name a few), or will they draft another quarterback, possibly ending the Tim Tebow era in the Rocky Mountains?
Unlike the spectacular plays from Elway’s playing days when he would dodge many defensive players and scramble from one side of the field to the other to buy time, Elway must not place this rebuilding project on his shoulders alone. A sign of a good leader is to utilize the people (and their skills) around you to make both you and the organization successful. Elway must tap into the skill of General Manager Brian Xanders, the experience of Head Coach John Fox, as well as, his own experience gained when he owned the Colorado Crush in the Arena Football League. John Elway, using his quarterback mentality and his skill of controlling the huddle, hopefully, drove all the appropriate stakeholders to the same conclusion – we must draft individuals who will make us a better football team, immediately!
As an NFL quarterback, Elway’s career seemed to lift off after the 1987 AFC Championship game in Cleveland, highlighted by the 98 yard game tying drive now known by most football fans as “The Drive.” This Thursday night, John Elway has another opportunity to soar in his second position held with the Denver Broncos. The Drive occurred 24 years ago. 24 years from now, even 24 months from now, will Bronco fans be calling the 2011 draft, simply, The Draft? Only time will tell. If there is one thing I’ve learned from watching The Duke all those years, until the clock says zero, he is not done competing! Good luck to all the Bronco Brass this weekend!
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