For Denver Broncos’ John Elway, ‘the pressure is real, and it’s mounting’


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The two football lives of John Elway were on full display this past weekend before the Denver Broncos‘ game against the Tennessee Titans.

Elway was introduced during a ceremony that honored the 100 greatest Broncos as part of the NFL’s 100th season. Sporting his gold Hall of Fame jacket, Elway waved to a thunderous ovation.

John Elway’s football life comes with and without his gold jacket. With the jacket, Elway is on the NFL’s Mount Rushmore with a résumé of comebacks, wins and remember-when moments. A league and Super Bowl MVP, Elway made the Broncos a premier franchise during his 16-year career.

Even without the jacket, his presence remains everywhere in the Denver region, with his vast business interests that include restaurants and auto dealerships as well as a variety of commercials.

He has also been the Broncos’ top football executive since 2011, and he built a Super Bowl team around an injured Peyton Manning while his first draft pick, Von Miller, emerged as Super Bowl 50 MVP.

But three straight non-playoff seasons, two straight losing seasons for the first time since the 1970s and a slow start to 2019 have fans conflicted about their feelings for Elway. With the jacket, support for Elway is unquestioned and unwavering. Without it, he pulls the strings for a team that is 13-27 since the beginning of the 2017 season, which makes him a constant drive-time piñata on local sports radio.

“I’ve always said I don’t know how you’re John Elway in this town,” former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said. “You don’t get bad days, you know what I mean? You’re John Elway, and you always have to win.”

Perhaps for the first time since he was a struggling rookie quarterback in 1983, the scoreboard isn’t in Elway’s favor.

“It’s hard to separate, in a lot of ways, for people, even for people who’ve played in the league, the player and the general manager,” former Broncos wide receiver Mike Pritchard said. “It’s John Elway, it’s the Broncos. But right now, it’s almost like people look at him like he’s two different people.”

After the Broncos’ 0-4 start, Elway steadfastly said none of his team’s players is on the trading block. The Broncos have won their past two games but next face the defending division champion Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL). The 0-4 start was the first by the Broncos since 1999, the year Elway retired as a player, and the back-to-back seasons of double-digit losses were the first since the 1960s.

Source : ESPN