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Legends Of The Gridiron - John Elway

John ElwayJohn Elway was a legendary quarterback for the Denver Broncos (1983-1998) who will always be remembered for going out on top. After losing three Super Bowls John posted two consecutive Super Bowl wins to put an exclamation point on his long career and stifled any doubts that he is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.

John Albert Elway, Jr. born June 28, 1960 in Port Angeles Washington was sports minded at a very early age excelling at both baseball and football. He displayed signs of greatness while dominating in grade school football. His father decided to move the family to Granada Hills California so John could play for Granada Hills High School. This high school was known for its pass-oriented offense, which was a great fit for John’s skills. He ended his high school career with 5,711 passing yards and 49 passing touchdowns. As the number one recruited prep athlete in the nation, scouts loved that he was both a passing and rushing threat.

College Years

John also enjoyed playing baseball. His success on the diamond made him popular with major league baseball scouts. In fact, the Kansas City Royals drafted John out of high school to play in their minor league organization. But his love for football and the opportunity to play for Stanford, a school known for their high-octane passing attack, lured him away from baseball.

In John’s four years at Stanford (1979-1982), he completed 774 passes totaling 9,349 yards and 77 touchdowns. He won Pac-10 player of the year honors in 1980 and 1982 and held the Pac-10 records for passing and total offense.

John’s last college football game ended with one of the most famous plays in college football history. It became known as “The Play” where the University of California Berkeley (CAL) returned the final kick off of the game for a touchdown through the Stanford marching band that had already entered the field by using five lateral passes to win the game. Although John never led his team to a bowl game, he was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

NFL Years

In the 1983 NFL Football Draft, the Baltimore Colts selected John Elway with the first overall pick. He stunned the football world and refused to play for Baltimore Click Here to order this Mitchell & Ness Denver Broncos 1994 John Elway Authentic Throwback Jerseyicon and threatened to quit football to play baseball with the New York Yankees where he had already played with their organization for two summers. The Colts then traded John to the Denver Broncos where the Broncos immediately signed him to a 6-year contract worth 12.7 million.

John Elway mania took hold and instantly made headlines in the mile high city. The local newspapers even ran a section called, “The Elway Watch” as they followed their new quarter back throughout the season. In his rookie year, John started 10 games after replacing an injured Steve DeBerg and finished the year as the NFL’s 17th ranked quarterback.

In 1986, John broke out with a stellar statistical season but will be best remembered for the 15 play - 98 yard drive that later became know as “The Drive” beating the Cleveland Browns in the AFC championship game. He had led the Broncos to Super Bowl XXI against the New York Giants. Even though he had an impressive performance with 304 yards passing, one touchdown pass and one rushing touchdown the Broncos still lost to the Giants 39-20.

In 1987, Elway started for the AFC’s Pro Bowl team and was awarded the MVP. He had led the Broncos to a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance that year against the Washington Redskins. After taking an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter the Redskins answered with 35 second quarter points and went on to Click here to order this Mitchell & Ness Denver Broncos 1997 John Elway Authentic Throwback Jerseyicon win Super Bowl XXII 42-10. Elway’s memorable moments of that game came from his 56-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Nattiel with only 1 minute and 57 seconds into the game setting that fastest touchdown pass in Super Bowl history and his 23-yard touchdown reception from halfback Steve Sewell on a halfback option play.

In 1989, after beating the Cleveland Browns in a third AFC championship game, John led the Broncos into Super Bowl XXIV against the San Francisco 49ers. Looking for his first Super Bowl victory in three tries John and the Broncos were defeated in what is considered the most lopsided Super Bowl victory ever by a score of 55-10. John had an abysmal game only throwing 10 of 26 completions for 108 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Many people began to doubt if John Elway would ever win a Super Bowl and started comparing him to famous quarterbacks that never did like Fran Tarkenton and Dan Fouts.

John’s determination to get back to the big dance and to never give up, rewarded him with his fourth Super Bowl appearance in 1997, against the reigning Super Bowl champions Green Bay Packers. Finally the dark cloud of doubt that had followed John Elway his whole career as well as the Broncos fans had evaporated. The Broncos defeated the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII for John’s first Super Bowl win by a score of 31-24.

John Elway had eluded that 1998 would be his final season. With his competitive drive and passion for the game he found himself one more time leading the Broncos back to the Super Bowl for an encore performance. John Elway and the Broncos defeated Dan Reeves and the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII by the score of 34-19. This would be John Elway’s last game in the NFL. He was awarded the Super Bowl MVP stamping his successful career as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

John holds NFL records as quarterback with the most wins, the best winning percentage in league history (148-82-1), and tied for most Pro Bowl selections for a quarterback at nine. His four rushing touchdowns in his Super Bowl games is the most ever by a quarterback and he is the only quarterback to have started in five Super Bowls. He is also the second player ever to score a rushing touchdown in four Super Bowls (first was Thurman Thomas).

The Denver Broncos honored John Elway on September 13th, 1999, by officially retiring number 7 and inducting him into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame. Then on August 8, 2004, John Elway was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the only Denver Bronco ever to receive this honor.

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