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John Elway Biography

NFL Player Bio: John Elway

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

John Elway, born on June 28, 1960, is generally considered one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever played in the NFL. He spent all of his 16 seasons playing for the Denver Broncos. Despite numerous individual achievements, Elway was known for not winning the big one--after 3 losses in the Super Bowl. However, Elway closed out his career in storybook fashion--retiring on the heel of consecutive Super Bowl victories.

Elway came from a football family. In fact, his father was a head coach who held jobs in the college football ranks--including his son’s alma mater, Stanford. Elway enjoyed a prolific high school career at Granada Hills in California before enrolling at Stanford. While all people tend to remember from that era of Stanford football was Elway’s last game with the Cardinal--when Cal pulled off what will forever be known as “The Play,” Elway had a prolific career. He also excelled at collegiate baseball, enough so that the Yankees drafted him in the second round.

Elway was selected as the first pick in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts. Already playing minor league baseball, he threatened to stick with baseball rather than play for a Colts team that was one of the worst in the league at the time. The Colts’ front-office relented and traded him to the Denver Broncos. Right from the beginning, Elway was the starting quarterback.


Elway took a while to find his footing, but by 1986, had already led the Broncos to a Super Bowl, after marching his team down the length of the field late to win the AFC title game against the Browns. Their misfortune was that in the big game, they faced the unstoppable New York Giants. After getting out to a 10-7 lead, the Broncos fizzled--losing the game 39-20. The following year would find Elway further building his reputation as one of the best field generals in the league. They again made it to the Super Bowl and things again looked good after getting off to a 10-0 lead. Then disaster ensued--with the Redskins exploding on Denver to take the game going away, giving up 42 unanswered points in a 42-10 romp.

Picture of John Elway

The Broncos struggled to an 8-8 season in 1988, but the following season--Elway and Company made their 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years. Never catching a break in the opponent category, this time they ran into the powerful San Francisco 49ers. Elway and the Broncos were dismal and the 55-10 beating they received still stands as the most lopsided game in Super Bowl history. Despite all his achievements, Elway was 0-3 on the big stage. Not only that, but in those 3 Super Bowls, the Broncos were outscored 136-40.

The years started rolling by and Elway would put up big numbers. Still, as he got older, it looked problematic if the Broncos would ever return to the Super Bowl. But in 1998, he finally managed to return. After facing 3 beasts in his previous trio of Super Bowl efforts--the Broncos pulled the favored defending champion Green Bay Packers.

The 37-year old Elway led the perennial bridesmaid Broncos to their first Super Bowl win, with a heartfelt performance accentuated by the “helicopter play,” when Elway risked life and limb to get a critical late first down. The Broncos would prevail 31-24. The following year, a now-38-year-old Elway again led the Broncos to another stellar season, culminating in another Super Bowl berth--Elway’s 5th during his tenure in Denver.

It would be Elway’s last game. And it would be a most-fitting exit. Throwing for 336 yards, the Broncos upended the NFC Champion Falcons and former coach Dan Reeves, 34-19. The 9-time Pro-Bowler had emerged from the ashes and validated his career at the last possible moment. Just when it appeared that Elway’s career would be one of purely individual statistical achievement, he pulled out two Super Bowl wins to close his career like a true champion. He was inducted into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and later became the Vice President of Football Operations for his beloved Denver Broncos.

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