When word first emerged of Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway returning to the Broncos with duties that placed him in charge of the football operations, we were skeptical. There was no reason to believe that he had the ability to run an NFL team — or the willingness to put in the time to do the job the way it needs to be done.
We immediately thought of Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who took an executive position with the Dolphins several years ago before apparently realizing after three weeks that the gig entailed long hours and a skill set that a guy who can throw a football really well simply may not have.
Though it remains to be seen whether Elways has the skills to turn around the currently bumbling Broncos, he’s definitely putting in the time, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post.
“Now that we’re in the draft meetings, we get in here about 8 and get out of here about 7, 7:30,” Elway said, per Klis. “The thing is I took this job to be successful. And having grown up in a football family, having played football most of my life, I knew what it was going to take before I took the job.
“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s really not work if you love what you’re doing.”
That love of what he is doing has included studying film of more than 300 prospects in advance of the draft, during which the Broncos hold the second overall pick.
Klis also dusts off the argument that Elway’s time with the Colorado Crush of the AFL prepared him for the job he now holds, and Klis says that only “NFL snobs” discount that experience.
Consider us, then, one of the NFL snobs to which Klis is referring. Indeed, what other person has jumped from running an AFL team to running an NFL team? Precisely the same number who have jumped from being head coach of an AFL team to being head coach of an NFL team.
Except for Elway.
Bottom line? Elway got his current job based on what he did as a player and what he means to the Broncos organization. Unlike Marino, however, Elway has embraced the position — and he’s working as hard as he would have been if he’d worked his way into the job via years in lower-level NFL positions.
Whether he can pull it all together and make the Broncos competitive again remains to be seen. So far, the signs are encouraging.