After earning an economics degree from Stanford, and over the course of his career, John Elway has built an empire. He did this through his patience, drive, intelligence, and the use of his famous name. He has owned and sold auto dealerships, cashing out for more than $80 million. Elway owns three restaurants bearing his name Denver and Vail. He has also co-owned the arena football franchise, The Colorado Crush. Now, as Vice President of Football Operations with the Broncos, we all wait in anticipation to see what direction he will take our beloved team.
Elway's legacy as a player is set and no one can ever take away what he is/was to the Broncos and to the NFL as a whole. Now he is in a role where he is once again a rookie, and all eyes are on him. He brings his big name to this position and everyone expects huge things from him, much like many people expect big things from young Tim Tebow, another man with a big name and a college legacy that can not be taken away from him.
Maintaining credibility has got to be one of Elway's most important goals. From the start of his emergence as VP he has done everything he can to be as transparent and open as possible. Elway became the first football executive to open a twitter account and actually announce business transactions over that medium. The challenge is that along with being transparent and open Elway has to hold certain cards close to his chest, business strategy depends on that, particularly when players and personnel are so fiercely coveted by the competition.
I am confident that no message is relayed to the media without having been carefully planned by the executive team of the Broncos. They have had a consistent message on the the status of Kyle Orton as our starter for the past 7 months. The answers that Coach Fox gives when questioned about this seem to be somewhat scripted and always on message. John Elway gives many interviews and always maintains a consistent message about the Kyle Orton/ Tim Tebow status. He is complimentary and critical of both, forthcoming in that it is currently Orton's job, but it will be a open competition. It is a matter of credibility not only to the fans and media but also to the players. Elway understands that without that credibility his new career will be short-lived.
The other side of the coin is a reality of business, Elway has to sell to succeed. This doesn't mean he has to lie about what he's selling, but he has to present it in only the best light. With the organization in a rebuilding mode and the fact that nobody has patience any more, it has got to be another critical goal to rebuild in the fastest and most efficient way possible. That means using every asset at Elway's disposal to rebuild the team. It appears that Elway sees Orton as a valuable commodity that can be traded to obtain critical pieces that are needed in the rebuild. The problem is that selling Orton is no easy task, especially when he's making franchise player money and there are no 'dummies' among the potential buyers.
Elway has to hope that Orton has an excellent showing in the preseason and another team either loses their starter or sees enough poor play to find themselves in a greater position of need. Elway also needs to see Tebow have success in the preseason so that the team will accept him as the starter over Orton. Elway has a tough task ahead and he must rely on his smarts and a little luck (no, not Andrew Luck .) Patience is required, and that seems to be a trait Elway has in spades. He waited 15 years to win his first Super Bowl. I think he can wait a few weeks for this Orton/ Tebow process to sort itself out.
Meanwhile, the team is much more than just the quarterbacks. Most fans would concede that the off-season has been successful in terms of the draft and free-agency aquisitions to date. The defense, ranked 32nd last season, has quietly been completely revamped. I would not be surprised if the defense ended up ranked in the top 10 in 2011. The already talent laden offense has added key pieces on the line and in the backfield. The overall youth and talent injection has to improve the special teams as well. The executive team and coaches will have some tough decisions to make on cut day.
Just like our other rookies, Elway will be fun to watch as he learns his position and contributes to the success of the Broncos. The big question is, can us fans be patient enough to tolerate these rookies as they learn, grow, make mistakes and ultimately succeed. I for one, plan to watch intently, cheer madly, and realize that each mistake takes the team one step closer to the success we all desire so much. GB2!