This is the only way John Elway should be remembered for his overall Broncos career

Denver Broncos -- John Elway, 1983-1998, 51,475 yards

Xxx C10 90 Elway 26 S Fbn Co
Denver Broncos -- John Elway, 1983-1998, 51,475 yards Xxx C10 90 Elway 26 S Fbn Co / MICHAEL MADRID via Imagn Content

John Elway is synonymous with the Denver Broncos. You can't tell the story of one without the other.

Recently, John Elway's contract with the team officially expired, bringing to a close a career with the organization that totaled nearly 30 years between the field and the front office.

Elway, who the Broncos traded for in 1983 after the No. 1 overall pick in the draft refused to play for the team that drafted him, the Baltimore Colts, leaves a lasting legacy that should be remembered fondly.

The Broncos have suffered through the worst stretch in team history, having missed the playoffs in each season since winning Super Bowl 50. Things seem to get worse by the year as the team cycles through starting quarterbacks and head coaches, looking for an answer.

Elway has taken much blame for this based on the coaches he has hired, the free-agent moves he made and the quarterbacks he turned to. But like most things in life, a recency bias skews the actual picture.

Broncos fans were treated to some terrific success in the Pat Bowlen era. The team was a contender for the playoffs and perhaps a deep run into the playoffs every single year. But why was that? Because John Elway was the quarterback.

After Mike Shanahan was fired in 2008, the Broncos hired Josh McDaniels and went through an embarrassing stretch under his direction. After he was let go, Elway came aboard and took the reigns as the team's new general manager.

He made some bad draft picks and signed some questionable free agents, but he also drafted Von Miller and was the key reason why Peyton Manning chose to sign with the Broncos in 2012. Those two moves brought the Broncos a third Super Bowl title.

Denver Broncos, John Elway
Jan 2, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Denver Broncos president of football operations John Elway / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ask yourself this. Had Elway never been involved with the Broncos in any capacity, how many Super Bowl wins would the team currently have? The answer is quite likely zero.

Look at the teams that have yet to win a Super Bowl. With the exception of the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings, and maybe Atlanta Falcons, most of those franchises either have a questionable front office or have never had a quarterback play at a Hall-of-Fame level.

The Broncos had both of those things in one man — Elway.

This is why, despite the lack of success the team has had in recent years, Elway's run in Denver should always be remembered with a smile and any negative remarks need to be thrown out along with last night's garbage.

It's easy to be negative about a team that has missed the playoffs in seven straight seasons. It's also easy to talk about how bad free-agent signings such as Ja'Waun James and Menelik Watson were. But every team has players like that in their history. Not every team has a quarterback that took it to five Super Bowls, winning two of them, and then later making all the necessary moves to help it win another.

So as Elway moves on to the next phase of his life, it gives us one more chance to celebrate the legacy he left on this organization. Elway's is the biggest name in the history of the Denver Broncos and it's not particularly close.

With that, hopefully every fan within Broncos Country can help send Elway off with two words and two words only...

Thank you.

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