John Elway is creative like the late innovator Steve Jobs. He is shrewd like businessman Bill Gates. The Broncos particularly think like Google. They don’t think like a wannabe inventor working out of his or her garage hoping to enter a science fair.
As we can see, Elway is a personnel expert whose creations changed the culture, and, of course, turned a mediocre team into a winning product. So, while it looks as if the Broncos magically appeared in the Super Bowl and became relevant, the reality is Elway built the majority of this championship-level team, cleaned house from the previous regime, drafted defensive players and addressed the team’s glaring needs with precisely low-cost, veteran free agents.
That’s why, on Sunday, the Broncos are representing the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII. What is clear when it comes to a philosophy of building, Elway is one of football’s brilliant minds. With a win on Sunday, he would become the only man to win a Super Bowl MVP trophy as a player and a Super Bowl as a top team executive.
Elway is an executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos. He became legendary in Denver, where he had become a visionary long after ending his 16-year career with two consecutive Super Bowl victories. He stopped playing football after the 1998 season, enjoyed spending time with his family and became an entrepreneur. He owns his two steakhouses and five auto dealerships, but had an urgent, strong desire to work for Denver owner Pat Bowlen. A lot has changed in Denver since Elway took over the reins of the tumultuous front office, and he is in position to win another trophy in just his third year as a dynamic leader.
He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback, a hotshot, a mastermind, with smarts, with finesse, with the ability to run a franchise and lure big-name players. There are many things that satisfy Denver fans about Elway’s instant success. Here’s what he’s done so far as a general manager: He hired John Fox, restructured the front office and signed veteran QB Peyton Manning. Elway has his fingerprints on just about everything since taking on a heavy burden and making an impact. This is simply a guy whose experience and mindset have made this franchise stronger, learning from another mastermind in Baltimore who is just as influential as Elway. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end with the Browns, won last year’s Super Bowl.
Elway is great, and he’s a winner, and perhaps remarkably, he’s still quarterbacking the Broncos. This is surely a team built to be effective, but the Seahawks are standing in its way come Sunday. In the long run, the Broncos will most likely be in primary contention.
More telling than anything, though, is Elway’s competitiveness. On the field, he was a competitor. Off the field, age 53, he is still a competitor, an enthusiast and orchestrator. My, how quickly the Broncos evolved into a juggernaut, especially when Manning arrived in Denver. What I saw this season was impressive, and it was nothing short of remarkable. The Broncos built the No. 1 offense overnight, the greatest in NFL history, and because of their offensive weapons, they are favored to win the Super Bowl.
This Broncos team is great offensively; now a record-setting force, and Elway assembled a balanced, All-Pro team with talent and experience. He is the face of this upstart franchise, the man responsible for changing the team’s culture. When he arrived, the Broncos were in need of an overhaul, and Elway, to his credit, transformed an entire team. It’s his business acumen, his great wisdom, his unmatched work ethic that have been essential to planning and effective decision-making.
And so, when he arrived in early 2011, Elway inherited Tim Tebow and traded him to the Jets. The feeling was that he never trusted in Tebow, and when the Colts cut Manning, Elway was determined to sign the gunslinger. He took a major risk in essentially bringing in Manning, convinced that he would be a Pro-Bowl quarterback and the future of the franchise, despite having had four neck surgeries.
The greatest thanks go to Elway.
Thanks to Elway, they are on verge of the franchise’s first Super Bowl since he was under center. He has built a winning team, and because of him, the Broncos have reached this point, and nearly are at the highest peak. It suddenly feels like a Mile High.
Football is America’s sport. The Broncos are one of the more storied franchises, owners of two Lombardi Trophies.
Elway made it that way.