There were first-round trade rumblings related to the Broncos in the 2020 NFL Draft, but John Elway and Co. stayed put and were rewarded for the choice when Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy was still there at No. 15.
Nearly 40 years prior, though, that was hardly the case. Had it been, Elway’s days and nights in Denver would have never come to be and the Broncos franchise would’ve been far different.
Indeed, this past Saturday was a historic one for the Broncos and the man that’s been a part of seven of the franchise’s eight Super Bowls in one fashion or another and has been part of all three of the Broncos’ title triumphs.
On May 2, 1983, Elway had the potential to be a Yankee or a Colt, but he was finally traded to the Broncos and the start of a Hall of Fame career and one that would redefine the Denver franchise began.
Sending Chris Hinton, Mark Herrmann and a 1984 first-rounder to the Colts, the Broncos acquired the rights to the SoCal kid with an absolute cannon for a right arm, versatility in his legs, calm in the fourth-quarter storm and all kinds of magic awaiting in a storied career.
Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, but never played for a team other than the Denver Broncos and since pulling off the rarest of feats when he won a championship in the final game of his career, he eventually moved into the front office of the franchise he called home.
An all-time athlete who was a Southern California high school football legend and a standout on the baseball diamond as well, Elway was taken No. 1 in the 1983 NFL Draft — one of the most legendary drafts in league chronicle and led by a QB class for the ages. Decades before Eli Manning made it known he wouldn’t play for the Chargers, Elway, who had also previously been drafted by Major League Baseball’s Yankees, made it known he wouldn’t be a Colt.
When the Broncos got Elway, he didn’t disappoint. Denver was an AFC power for much of Elway’s tenure, which included three Super Bowl trips — all of them losses — in the 1980s. Then, with Mike Shanahan as coach, two more followed and both were victories, including the last against the Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Elway garnered Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors and rode off into the sunset as a winner.
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Now he’s the president of football operations and general manager of the franchise, having been hired into the front office by late Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen in 2011.
As fate would have it, the Broncos found more success with another quarterback from the Colts, Peyton Manning. Elway and Co’s signing of Manning was instrumental in two Super Bowl berths and a Super Bowl 50 win.
It’s been 37 years since the Colts drafted Elway and 37 years since the Broncos traded to acquire him.
This past draft, Elway’s eyes were on the quarterback again as he looked to build around Drew Lock and did so with the selections of Jeudy and second-round selection K.J. Hamler, a wideout out of Penn State.
"We knew offensively we had to step it up," Elway told NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico recently. "We had to get more explosive on the offensive side, so it was our game plan, and our goal was to go in this year and give Drew Lock some help and get some people around him to get more explosive. We’ve been putting a lot of pressure on our defense since we won the Super Bowl back in 2015. So with Drew and the [way] that he ended last year, with his five starts, to be able to put some explosiveness around him, we feel like we were able to do that."
In the eyes of many, Elway’s thunder bolt for a right arm carried the Broncos to the franchise’s second, third and fourth Super Bowl appearance (their first was prior to his entrance into the league). It wasn’t until running back Terrell Davis and a well-rounded Broncos squad assembled around him that Super Bowl wins were had. He’s looking to do the same with Lock, now, it would appear.
There’s been plenty of criticism that’s surrounded Elway’s GM decisions, but he’s still looking to lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl. Just as he began doing following the ’83 draft.
Indeed, May 2, 1983 was a day that changed the Broncos franchise forever and altered NFL history.
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