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How to Make Your Mark in Pro Football
At 38, John Elway retired from professional football with a stellar career already under his belt. He has literally done everything a player can do in a professional football career.
Currently, Elway is the Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Denver Broncos; the team he has been throughout his professional career. When he retired from the game in 1999, he ranked as the most prolific passer in NFL history. He led his teams to six AFC Championship games and five Super Bowls, winning the last two. His #7 Broncos jersey was retired in September 1999. How was a super athlete like John Elway created?
Well, Port Angeles, Washington is a good place to start. Born in 1960 to Janet and Jack Elway, John was destined for a career in sport. Dad coached for many years at the high school, college and college level. In 1976, Dad became the head coach of Cal State-Northridge, and John played football at Granada Hills High School for three years. The high point of his high school career totaled 5,711 passing yards and 49 passing touchdowns. He was named to the Parade All America high school football team in 1979.
It’s no surprise that he was the number one interest in high school recruiting offers. He has received over 60 university scholarship offers. And with great baseball talent, the Kansas City Royals drafted him in the 18th round of the 1979 Major League Baseball draft. That same draft Dan Marino was picked in the fourth round. However, John was college bound and enrolled at Stanford University.
At Stanford, John played football and baseball. In four seasons as a QB, he completed 774 passes for 9,349 yards and 77 touchdowns. John’s 24 touchdown passes in 1982 led the nation, and he graduated with nearly all Stanford and Pacific-10 career bests for passes and total offense. He earned Pac-10 Player of the Year honors in 1980 and 1982. In 1984, he was the most recruited prep athlete. For the Stanford baseball team, he played right field and pitcher. He finished his senior year hitting .361 with nine home runs and 50 RBIs in 49 games. Additionally, he finished with a 5-4 record and a 4.51 ERA. Add in a second-round draft by the New York Yankees in the 1981 MLB Draft and Elway has a pretty full college career.
By the way, John has a bachelor’s degree in economics and is a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.
John was playing minor league baseball for the Yankees when the 1983 NFL Draft sent him first overall pick to the Baltimore Colts. John didn’t want to play for the Colts and convinced management to trade him. Hello Denver Broncos and the start of a record breaking career. High school recruiting certainly paid off.
With the normal growing pains of any new player, Elway worked hard and consistently posted big numbers. Even when the Broncos lost, his numbers were impressive. A Super Bowl appearance in 1986 was lost to the New York Giants, 39-20. In 1987, Elway was selected to debut on the American Football Conference Pro Bowl team and won the NFL Most Valuable Player award. On his way to the Super Bowl and a trophy fight with the Washington Redskins.
It was a disappointing game and Elway’s first hit with stats was disappointing. But, he became the first QB in Super Bowl history to catch a pass. And, scored his team’s only touchdown.
Another Super Bowl loss in 1989 was even worse than the others. And, some might think he would be ashamed. But, his reaction was to say he would go to the Super Bowl every year if he could, even if the team lost. It took another 8 years, but the Broncos were back in the Super Bowl. This time the result was different…they beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24 and Elway was named the game’s MVP.
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