One of the buzz words around Super Bowl XLVIII has been “legacy.”
Most of that talk has surrounded Peyton Manning, but there is another Hall of Fame quarterback who can pad his own resume with another title.
John Elway, the Broncos’ executive vice president of football operations, removed a big monkey off his back when he finally led Denver to a Super Bowl championship at the end of his career. Elway lived with that perhaps unfair stigma of not being able to “win the big one,” until he capped a stellar career with consecutive Super Bowl titles.
Now as an executive, Elway is on the precipice of a third ring.
“It’s different,” said Elway. “Obviously, playing is a lot more physical and much tougher that way, but I think that in my position now it’s kind of trying to stay two steps ahead and make decisions on what we have to do in the future. Hopefully they’re the right ones.”
The Broncos faithful can’t complain about too many of Elway’s decisions thus far. One decision that has worked out really well is bringing in Peyton Manning.
While Elway said he does not believe Manning needs another championship to cement his legacy, it’s fitting that two giants of the sport faced similar criticisms during their careers about postseason failures.
“We tried to show him what the Denver Broncos are about, about what our staff was about, what we had to offer,” said Elway. “The ability for us to be able to blend our offense to what he’s used to doing and been doing for a 14-year career, and also the young guys we had on the roster, but also what the Rocky Mountain region was all about.
“I felt really good about our story,” added Elway. “I’m glad (Manning) saw it the same way.”
Manning and Elway were both drafted by the Colts, but are now tied together as legends in Denver taking another crack at football’s ultimate prize.
“I would (have) liked to have somebody that had been in the (quarterback) position running an organization when I was playing quarterback too that had the same mindset,” said Elway. “I have never really talked to him about exactly why he chose Denver, but I have a feeling that that was part of the decision.”
Elway and Manning know what it takes to win it all, but perhaps more importantly they know what it’s like to fall short. Both experienced disappointing finishes in the postseason before finally winning that elusive Lombardi Trophy.
It makes them both experts on never taking an opportunity like the one in front of them for granted. One never knows when or if that chance will present itself in the future.
“To be able to have that mental toughness, be able to keep things straight and keep your mind focused on the football game, knowing that we’ve got 60 minutes of football to play, which is the most important 60 minutes that we’ll play all year, I think that experience that we’ve had with the ups and downs that we’ve had, that this team will handle this really well,” said Elway. “To me, the common denominator is competitiveness and wanting to win.”
Elway has been out of the game as a player for 15 years, but his work as an executive has lit that competitive fire he is no longer physically able to fight.
“I’m getting better with letting the control go and knowing that there’s nothing I can do,” said Elway. “It was tough early, and there’s certain games that I look at that for us to be successful, we had to get over it. The San Diego game (in the Divisional playoff round) for me was a crucial game for us, so I was more nervous for that game than I had been since I took the job just because of the impact that I knew it would have on us as an organization, if we won or lost. And if we lost, really the impact we had, so I look at more the impact of each game and that determines how nervous I get.”
Paul Jannace is the sports editor of the Wellsville Daily Reporter, a Gatehouse Media publication. He is covering his 4th Super Bowl and can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at