People have had a problem with John Elway since 1983.
Back then, they saw a punk California kid who didn't know his place. This young quarterback out of Stanford wants to dictate where he plays? He wants to set the rules? He'll threaten to play baseball if he's drafted by the Baltimore Colts?
"Who does this kid think he is?"
One such critic was Terry Bradshaw.
"For a guy like Elway to come out and say, 'Well, I want to be out on the West Coast, and I want to be on the beach and I'm a California boy' - well, who cares what you are?" Bradshaw said in a 1983 interview. "And he says, 'Well, I'll go play baseball.' Play baseball. You should play baseball. Because in my opinion, he's not the kind of guy you win championships with."
After Elway arrived in Denver when he was traded to the Broncos, some held firm on this narrative.
Even after he won two Super Bowls to end his career, some still felt as Bradshaw did.
Fast forward to 2016, and the narrative is still kicking and screaming. Now it's about Elway as an executive for the Broncos.
"How dare he ask players to take pay cuts."
"Why does he hate quarterbacks so much?"
"How dare he be so cheap."
"How dare he act like an executive who really is a used car salesman."
Elway’s hubris may doom Broncos’ QB search https://t.co/aCwYGQxSYt via @SInow pic.twitter.com/Z1N7LDFBeI— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) April 8, 2016
The most recent hit piece comes from Greg Bedard at Sports Illustrated. You know, the same guy who predicted the New England Patriots would destroy the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.
In his article, "Elway's hubris may doom Broncos' QB search," he poses this question: "What's the deal with the way Elway has treated the players at his former position?"
You mean, other than like a savvy businessman and successful executive who wants what's best for the franchise?
Bedard mentions the Brock Osweiler negotiations and uses that as his algorithm to solve the riddle of why Elway hates quarterbacks. Yes, that also includes Peyton Manning.
"Elway offered Osweiler $16 million per season, after the illustrious Sam Bradford received $17.5 million per year from the Eagles. Elway was O.K. going that high for a quarterback (who) has started seven games (with a 5-2 record) and was benched for a declining Manning, but Elway draws a $7 million line in the sand for a player (who) has a 27-20 record in 47 career starts and went to two conference title games, winning one. Does that even make sense?"
Let's count the ways.
Elway still knows a heck of a lot more about Osweiler than the Houston Texans, who will pay him more than Tom Brady over the next two seasons after a 10-second meeting in 2014. Elway's watched Osweiler's growth as a quarterback since he drafted him and knows what he's capable of in this system. If you want to criticize Elway, do so for his high offer to Osweiler. Thankfully, the Texans bailed Elway out from that contract nightmare.
With Kaepernick, Elway sees a guy who has struggled the last two seasons. Elway doesn't know enough about Kaepernick to throw silly money at him. Unlike Houston, at least Elway and the Broncos met Kaepernick and talked with him. It's also a sound negotiation strategy. Bid low and go from there.
Why not have Kaepernick do a "prove it" deal? Come in, play well, prove you can do what we all expect, and you'll get that money - and probably more.
But, hey, big, bad, mean Elway hates quarterbacks.
An interesting note on that deplorable request by Elway: In a great piece by Matt Maiocco with Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, due to state income tax differences, the Broncos offer is just $2 million short, not the full $4.9 million.
The other aspect of Bedard's hit piece: "He made Peyton Manning take a pay cut last season ..." Yes, that $4 million Manning made winning the Super Bowl had to be a bitter pill to swallow.
Yet in the same story Bedard says: "Elway was O.K. going that high for a quarterback (who) has started seven games (with a 5-2 record) and was benched for a declining Manning."
Whether intentional or not - let's go with not - Bedard proved Elway was right to ask Manning to take that pay cut. Oops.
As for the "he made Manning" - please. Give Manning more credit than that. Bedard makes it sound like Elway morphed into Liam Neeson from "Taken." "You will take this pay cut or I will find you and kill you."
This is nothing new.
This is the same hit piece spewing the same narrative people have postulated since 1983.
Don't give any money back, Kaepernick. And what are you doing Elway? He's not an '01 Malibu at your dealerships https://t.co/YgJhkXonPt— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) April 7, 2016
They see a guy who's found success doing it his way, and they hate it. It doesn't fit the image in their mind of how an executive in the NFL does business. They're not supposed to be brash, cocky or confident. They're not supposed to be a used car salesman, even if they sell more cars than anyone else.
As Bedard wrote: "But here comes Elway, like he's valuating(?) a trade-in at one of his car dealerships, thinking that he can pick from the remains of the relationship between Kaepernick and the 49ers."
Here comes the big, bad, mean Elway, y'all.
Hide your kids.
Lock up your valuables.
Who does this guy think he is?