So why does Boomer Esiason constantly sell the Denver Broncos short and pick against them? To understand that, you have to go way back to the 1983 draft. If you haven't seen the 30 for 30 that ESPN did on it, you should check it out.
Because John Elway handled his selection by Indianapolis the way they did, there was a prevailing sentiment among many at the time that Elway was a west coast pretty-boy brat. He didn't like cold weather. He was a daddy's boy. One of the best moments in the video above is of Terry Bradshaw angrily admonishing Elway in an interview for using his leverage as a baseball player to get out of playing for the Colts. Despite being unpopular, as the number one pick in that stacked draft, John Elway became the de facto high water mark quarterbacks by which other quarterbacks would measure themselves to for years to come.
Enter the 1984 draft.
Norman Julius Esiason, entered the 1984 NFL draft after playing college ball for the University of Maryland. Although "Boomer" was the first quarterback selected, he had to wait until the second round. Remember when draft pundits lost their minds when Aaron Rogers tumbled down the draft board? Remember the look of anguish on his face? The fire it ignited under him to prove teams wrong that had passed him over?
It was like that for Esiason, but worse. As the first round wore on, his Wkipedia page states:
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper was, in Esiason's words, "going ballistic" that he was still available in the latter stages of the first round.
While I am sure Esiason was relieved to finally come off the board ten picks into the second round, he had to be less than happy that he landed in Cincinnati. Sure, there was an anomalous Super Bowl appearance in 1981, but beyond that, the Bengals had been as bereft of success and were as poorly run as they are today.
As the first quarterback taken in his draft, Esiason would be judged in comparison to his peers. When your peer is John Elway and when you play for the Bengals, your concept of self-esteem worth and self-worth are easily questioned.
During his run with the Bengals, Jets, and Cardinals, Norman failed to capitalize on whatever anger he held from being passed over in the draft. His record was a losing one, 80-93 over the life of his career. His lone highlight was losing Super Bowl XXIII, where he was sacked five times, completed just 46% of his passes, intercepted once, and failed to throw any touchdowns. Esiason did go to four pro bowls and earned an All Pro nod in 1988, but with numbers like that, the people that passed over him in the first round of the 1984 draft were clearly wise to do so.
So why does he hate the Denver Broncos?
In six meetings between Norman and the Broncos (four with the Bengals and two with the Jets), Esiason lost all but one and by an average of nearly two touchdowns. The one game that Esiason did win was played in 1994 when he was with another beacon of success, the New York Jets. Were it not for an overtime field goal in that game, Norman would have been totally winless against the Broncos. His last game against Denver, he watched from the bench. Returning to the Bengals after an unremarkable run with the Arizona Cardinals, Esiason was unable to unseat the offensive juggernaut that was starting quarterback Jeff Blake. Norman could do little more than watch as Elway and company trounced Cincinnati, 38-20, on their way to their first Super Bowl Championship.
Could it be that Boomer Esiason hates the Denver Broncos because he's jealous? Is he jealous of John Elway for all the success? For being picked in the first round? For owning him throughout his career? Could he be a man who thought he was the best, but was constantly reminded that he was no better than second round talent? Esiason played in the AFC during a time when the best team in it was the Denver Broncos and that, undoubtedly, chapped his ass and his soul.
So next time you listen to Esiason's predictions and he picks against the Denver Broncos, remember that his are the picks of a frustrated grudge-holder who failed to prove his worth on the field against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. A man who lashes out at demons from his past, despite being proven wrong week-in and week-out to the tune of eight AFC Championships and three Super Bowl victories. Just remember that Denver got over on him time and time again and no amount of petty rancor towards the Broncos will change that.