Johnson was his usual charismatic and entertaining self, and he still looks like he’s in good enough shape to play on Sundays. It is obvious from the interview that V.J. still considers himself a part of the fabric of the Broncos fraternity, and he made it very clear that he believes this team is ready to overcome the setback from a year ago and claim the ultimate goal this season. Johnson pledged his ultimate confidence in John Elway and the foundation that has been laid in the previous seasons. “These guys are ready primed to win a World Championship”, proclaimed Johnson, while adding “Pat Bowlen deserves another one”. No argument here, Vance.
As a child of the 1980’s I fell in love with the Denver Broncos because of John Elway. Most Broncos fans in my age bracket would tell you the same thing. My earliest Broncos memories include Tom Jackson before he became a fixture on ESPN, Karl Mecklenberg’s double 7’s terrorizing opposing offenses, Sammy Winder and Bobby Humphreys taking hand-offs from Elway, and Dennis Smith laying the wood from the secondary. Elway stood out above all for obvious reasons, but I was also a huge fan of his receiving targets of that era; Mark Jackson, Vance Johnson, and Ricky Nattiel- better known as the ‘”Three Amigos”.
John Elway is now the HMFIC of football operations at Dove Valley and has built a roster that is as talented as any in the NFL. Peyton Manning has broken or will break every major passing record before he retires, and his crop of receiving targets, or “The Four Horsemen”, (DeMaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas) are every bit as talented as those “Three Amigos” were nearly two decades ago. If you look at statistics alone the current guys are off the charts, but you have to consider the Broncos attempted 201 more pass attempts in 2013 than they did in 1989. Dan Reeves was as conservative of a coach as there ever was, but Johnson still amassed 415 receptions with 13.7 yds/reception and 37 career touchdowns in his ten seasons with the Broncos.
V.J. and his fellow amigos never won a Super Bowl despite playing in three of them from 1986-1989. The NFC was the dominant conference during that era, claiming 13 straight Lombardi Trophies from 1984-1996, a streak the Broncos broke with Elway & company’s first win in 1997. Many experts believe the league is constructed the same way today, with NFC powerhouses such as Seattle and San Francisco head and shoulders above the AFC’s best (Denver, New England, Indianapolis).
There are a few of us that don’t see it that way, Vance Johnson included.