Elway can't buck the Bronco habit

Nick Halling reports on the quarterback who is not the retiring type

IT COULD still all end in tears but, for now, John Elway's decision to play American Football for yet another season looks more likely to culminate in another trip to the Super Bowl five months from now.

Elway, the quarterback and inspirational leader of the Denver Broncos for the last 15 seasons, guided his team to their first-ever title in an emotional victory over the Green Bay Packers last January. As the success- starved state of Colorado savoured the moment, Denver's leading light pondered his options. Retirement seemed a logical course: after all, what other peaks were left to be scaled?

Instead, after four months of deliberation, he elected to return, to the delight of coaches, team-mates and the people of Denver, to whom he is a sporting institution. "The bottom line is, I wasn't ready to quit competing," he said. "I've got lots of years to live in retirement, and the last thing I want to do is pass up the opportunity to play one more year of football."

There are many teams around the league who wish he had. Two weeks ago, as the Broncos began the defence of their Super Bowl trophy against the New England Patriots, the 38-year-old maestro looked better than ever. In the face of a relentless blitzing assault from the Patriots, Elway held his nerve, scrambling for yardage here, throwing timely passes there, keeping his rivals in a state of confusion. At the finish, he had completed 22 of 34 passes for 257 yards and one touchdown. The most significant statistic, however, was the scoreline: the Broncos won the game 27-21, the 139th triumph of Elway's career, more than any other quarterback in NFL history. Without him, the Broncos may have been found wanting by determined opponents.

As if to confirm his status, Elway then destroyed the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, the Broncos scoring on their first five possessions on the way to a 42-23 drubbing. In two games, they have amassed 854 yards and scored 69 points, Super Bowl-winning form, and while others are contributing too, Elway is the key factor.

"He's just incredible," said the wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, recipient of 15 Elway passes in those two games. "He's looking faster and sharper than ever."

Despite limping off against Dallas, Elway is expected to deliver again tonight when the Broncos visit their hated rivals, the Oakland Raiders. Another challenge for Denver, another opportunity for Elway to continue his personal assault on the record books. He needs less than 1,000 yards to join Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins as the only quarterbacks in history to throw for 50,000 career yards. Another 19 touchdowns are needed to reach the 300 plateau, while 4,000 career completions are no more than two good games away.

Already, those who suggested that Elway had overplayed his hand by carrying on are being forced to make drastic reassessments. Instead, a new theme has been emerging in Denver over the last few days. "It's time to begin the Save John Elway Campaign," said Bob Kravitz, a columnist with the Rocky Mountain News. "John is still doing all things he's always done. George Foreman should retire. Mick Jagger should retire. John Elway? Shouldn't retire."

The player himself helped fuel speculation that what began as a farewell tour two weeks ago may turn into something more substantial during an interview with Jim Kelly of the ESPN television network. Kelly, a former quarterback with Buffalo, probed his friend closely about the long-term plans. Elway replied that while he was "almost certain" that this would be his final year, there was a chance that he might return.

A shrewd manipulator of the media, Elway would have known the effects his words would have had in the city, but he refused to elaborate further last week. "I'm not going to answer those questions," he said. "I'm going to wait until the end of the year and go from there."

Much may depend on the health of his wife, Janet. A devoted family man and father of four children, Elway maintains that his decision to return was a result of deep consultations with those closest to him. The last few weeks have been difficult for the family. Elway missed most of the team's pre-season training to be at his wife's bedside as she underwent surgery for colonic cancer.

It has all the makings of another American sporting soap opera - Elway, the master operator, keeping his public and media inquisitors on tenterhooks, while toying with opponents on the field. Like the Patriots and Cowboys earlier, the Raiders may discover tonight that the John Elway saga looks set to run and run, all the way to the Super Bowl.

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all