At some point during the 2020 season, every Broncos fan came to the realization that Denver would not be going to the playoffs and that this season would end just as the previous four had, in abject disappointment.
The cozy garments of Broncos success that had comforted generations of fans have been laid to rest. Not losing back-to-back seasons? Gone. Consecutive games without being shut out? Kaput. The Broncos team we knew and trusted to be a competitor year-after-year, showed itself to no longer be that.
When the 2020 season ended with a loss against the Las Vegas Raiders on January 3rd, the wheels of meaningful change finally began to turn in the right direction.
John Elway announced that he would be stepping into an elevated role with the team, but we have subsequently come to find that his power would be greatly diminished with the hiring of a new General Manager. As hard as it is to say, the time had come for the man who helped bring Peyton Manning, Demarcus Ware, TJ Ward, Aqib Talib, two AFC Championships, and a Super Bowl (not to mention that this is John ‘Freakin’ Elway, the single most important figure in Broncos history), to step aside.
Shortly after the Elway news, it was revealed that the unchecked control of the Broncos by Joe Ellis would also be coming to a close following his 2021 contract expiration. Since the death of Pat Bowlen, Ellis’ primary role with the Broncos has been to obstruct the transition of ownership to any of the Bowlen heirs. History has shown that executing the duties of the Bowlen family trust and running the Broncos proved counter-productive to success on the field.
With Ellis stepping aside and and with the Bowlen family’s day in court coming this summer, there is finally movement on the ownership front. While a final determination as to whether the team will be transitioned to a member of the Bowlen family or sold outright remains to be seen, at least there is a solution somewhere on the horizon. This nebulous trust-control has proven to be a complete disaster and the sooner it’s over, the better it will be for Broncos Country and the NFL.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, 2021 may be just as bad as the previous half-decade. Just because reforms have started, it’s likely to take some time before the needle starts to tick northward. John Elway will always be the Denver Broncos. His legacy is cemented as a great player and an executive that brought championship football back to Denver. The vanity of executive control will soon give way to centralized ownership with vision and expectations.
We just have to be patient.
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