This is the week of NFL “What ifs” at SBNation.
In terms of the Denver Broncos, there are two obvious choices. What if the Broncos beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and/or the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional playoffs? For this exercise, those are too obvious.
For the Broncos “what if,” Adam Malnati and I had to go bigger — at least for the first one. And that’s when it hit me ...
What if John Elway plays for the Baltimore Colts?
This was the first of the “what if” scenarios that Adam and I went through on a special MHR Radio Podcast (ApplePodcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher). Over the course of the week, we will highlight some of the others we thought were fun.
What if John Elway played for the Baltimore Colts? What if the #Broncos played the #Vikings in #SuperBowl XXXIII? It's #NFL "what ifs" week @SBNation, & @AdamMalnati16 & I run through some wild ones on the @MileHighReport Radio Podcast. @ApplePodcasts: https://t.co/wI1BUlq75V— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) June 24, 2019
For the first scenario, Elway’s decision in the 1983 NFL Draft shaped the entire league, not just two teams. If Elway doesn’t refuse to play in Baltimore for then-owner Bob Irsay, the Colts don’t move to Indianapolis, thus Art Modell doesn’t move the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore.
If that move doesn’t happen, does Bill Belichick stay in Cleveland and never coach the New England Patriots? That one is a little more far-fetched since Belichick was fired by Modell. But it’s fun to ponder if the franchise doesn’t move to Baltimore, does Belichick stay with the Browns and alter the course of the New York Jets (he was the defensive coordinator in his next job) and the Patriots?
Do the Browns win the two Super Bowls the Ravens won?
What happens to Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck?
The Super Bowl the Colts win in Indianapolis doesn’t happen since the Colts are still in Baltimore.
In this “what if” situation, would the Broncos still have drafted tackle Chris Hinton or do they draft another of the quarterbacks?
Would Pat Bowlen still have bought the franchise from Edgar Kaiser in March of the next year?
Would the Broncos still be in Denver or would they have moved to Indianapolis?
Over the last 40 years, there isn’t one decision that changed the NFL more than Elway’s. To think about what would have changed and how is both surreal and frightening. As a fan of the Broncos, way more of the latter.
Thank goodness Elway didn’t want to play in Baltimore.