The only trouble is, we were left with the feeling that it was over too soon. That that one more lap around the track was left out there. The expectations of our Denver Broncos this year went from little to nothing because of the uncertainty of Peyton Manning’s health, to a 1-2 beginning and then an 11 game run in the Win column. Our belief that a possible return to the NFL’s biggest stage was impending. Our team came together and gelled at the end of October and the sky was the limit. United in Orange! Orange Crush 2.0!
Alas, it was not meant to be.
Time has shown that John Elway was not a fool. Nor was he jealous of any other Quarterback. He doesn’t care about any of his records, or if anyone breaks them. His loyalties belong to Pat Bowlen, the Denver Broncos, the Mile High City and Broncos Country. In that order.
John was brought back to the organization he loves and hired by a man he respects, to do one thing--Bring this franchise Championships.
I’d say he has done a pretty remarkable job so far. That aim fell two games short in 2012, but not because of Elway. He assembled a cast of leaders and players which made those goals possible. The story just didn’t quite run true to the script. Elway brought in the one guy he felt could make it happen: Peyton Manning.
A great many thought John must be daft for going in this direction. In 2011, Manning watched the Colts’ season-opener from a hospital bed, having not even been cleared to walk yet. He had been through a procedure to fuse vertebrae in his neck. After that came a series of four more surgeries to return the feeling and strength to Peyton’s throwing arm. Hours and hours of rehabilitation and still, no one outside of a small handful of people thought Manning could return to the game, much less throw anything more than a Bubble screen pass.
After a regular season in which he set nearly every franchise single-season passing record for the Broncos, Peyton looked back on the season to reflect.
"I accomplished a lot more this year than I certainly thought that I would have personally, and I think this team exceeded its expectations as well," Manning said after Denver’s 38-35 double-overtime loss to Baltimore. "We really didn’t know what to expect from this team. A lot of new players – it’s hard to form chemistry when you have new players and a new team in such a short period of time, and we did just that and did some really good things."
I’ll admit, I had that permanent grin on my face during the last month or so. The last time I had that grin was during Super Bowl XXXII on Sunday, January 25, 1998. The Broncos were playing the Green Bay Packers for their first Lombardi trophy. I was the only person at the party that had no doubt that the Broncos would pull it off. By the time the "Helicopter" occurred, my resolve was cemented. The rest is history. Just like Saturday’s game.
The story is yet to be finished however, and alterations can and will be made. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard put some perspective on it, saying:
"Look forward to next year. Remember this feeling and come back next year stronger and better. A lot better."