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What if Broncos had not traded for John Elway in 1983?

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SBNation is doing a week of “What ifs,” in the NFL, but few teams have a single player who has so universally affected the franchise as John Elway.

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Good morning, Broncos Country!

We are into the slow part of the offseason, and that means filling our pages with hypotheticals and conjecture - two of my least favorite things.

But SB Nation’s “What if?” theme this week sparked some interesting conversation among Jess, Tim and me and brought out some great “what ifs” from the MHR faithful here and online during our live podcast Wednesday night.

A lot of those “what ifs” would result in a completely different outcome in a game (ie, Rahim Moore not being able to do what John Mobley did two decades earlier), or in an era (such as Terrell Davis not injuring his knee or Peyton Manning not choosing the Broncos) - which would most certainly have lead to a different outcome in a given season, namely another championship, or two.

And that kind of thing could completely alter the team’s history as it might not lead to coaching changes or player losses or player gains that ultimately had a major impact on the franchise later as well.

But there is one “What if?” that is almost impossible to imagine because of how many things could not have happened if it did not happen.

What if the Broncos had not traded for John Elway in 1983?

Aside from Floyd Little lobbying to keep the franchise in Denver so we even have a Broncos team to talk about, no single player has been so significant to what the franchise has accomplished.

Obviously without Elway, the Broncos would not have had so many iconic moments and games in Broncos’ history to relive:

The Drive would not have happened.

The Fumble never would have been.

The Drive II most certainly would not be in our history books.

Super Bowls XXI, XXII, XIV would not have broken our hearts.

Super XXXII would not have saved us.

A back-to-back Super Bowl win would not have occurred.

Perhaps even more impactful though, was just how competitive Elway made the Broncos season after season. We would not have witnessed the two-time Super Bowl champion put together 46 game-winning drives, including 35 fourth-quarter comebacks.

And obviously, there would be no “Elway the GM” to have put his mark on this franchise a decade after retiring as Broncos quarterback. That certainly would have meant different players drafted and acquired (which might have meant no Paxton Lynch or Garett Bolles to wring our hands over), but it also would mean no Von Miller, no Peyton Manning.

It’s a futile exercise, of course, to play the “what if” game. It’s a fun reminder of what a rich history the Broncos have had - much of it thanks to one very fortuitous trade 37 years ago.

Perhaps another player would have come along and created the kind of impact on the entire program that Elway did ... but not likely. Not like he did.

Flashback read

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