The 20 biggest what-ifs in Denver Broncos history

  • Blockbuster trade for Calvin Johnson?
  • Missing out on Kyle Shanahan
  • Steve Young the Denver Broncos QB?

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14. What if Steve Young hadn't retired?

I would consider myself fairly knowledgeable about Denver Broncos' team history, but this is one that slipped through the cracks. Am I the only one who didn't know that Steve Young had met with Mike Shanahan about finishing his NFL career as a member of the Denver Broncos?

Apparently, this was legit.

Steve Young was forced to retire from the NFL in 1999 due to concussions. Apparently, had he continued playing, it would have been with Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos. From the ESPN archive and a column written by Chris Mortensen:

"If Steve Young was going to play football again, it would have been for the Denver Broncos, according to sources close to the player. And, yes, he wanted to continue his career. He didn't want to retire. It wasn't about the concussions, sources say. They insist that it wasn't about his new bride, Barbara, who now carries his first born.

(Mike) Shanahan wouldn't divulge the details of his conversation this past Monday with Young when everyone, including 49ers general manager Bill Walsh, jumped to the conclusion that the left-handed quarterback would soon be a Bronco. But, perhaps surprisingly to some, Shanahan did not put the full-court press on Young."

Chris Mortensen, ESPN

This story is absolutely mind-blowing to me. I had no idea this was a possibility. Shanahan was on the 49ers' coaching staff from 1992-94 when Young was enjoying his best years as a professional player. Of course, this was all taking place in 1999, the season after John Elway had played his last game as a member of the Denver Broncos.

How about that alternate timeline in Denver Broncos' history? Steve Young taking the mantle from John Elway? We all know Jerry Rice oddly became a member of the Denver Broncos, which makes so much more sense in hindsight given the context of Shanahan coaching in San Francisco for those years.

Instead of Steve Young, this became primarily the Brian Griese era for the Denver Broncos, which then gave way to the Jake Plummer era.