By definition, eras end. They are a story that spans a specific amount of time, with ups and downs. For the Denver Broncos, we’ve been here before. In both cases, the ending brought a little sadness, and a lot of relief.
The first John Elway era, his hall of fame playing career, culminated in back-to-back Super Bowl wins. It was a relief to see him go out on top, even though it was sad to know the story had ended.
The second John Elway era peaked in 2015. A Super Bowl win in Peyton Manning’s last season, but on the back of a defense Elway built.
The sadness and relief have arrived five seasons later, after a stretch of losing most in Broncos Country have never experienced. Plagued by an inability to find PFM’s replacement, and seasons of double digit losses, the Elway era as a GM had stretched beyond the days of success.
Whether Drew Lock will be the QBOTF is an unanswered question, and will be left for the incoming GM. Vic Fangio could be legitimately on the hot seat with a shift in management.
Big contracts like Von Miller’s will be scrutinized. What to do with Justin Simmons (PAY HIM) will have to be decided. How much will the team change on the field moving forward. Player personnel always changes, but this could signal a major shift in philosophy.
The ownership questions, money issues, an identity crisis, all await a new GM, as Elway moves into his ‘elevated roll.’
There will be no riding off into the sunset. The Orange and Blue skies of a setting sun have already given way to a dark night. Mired in losing. Unable to patch the holes in a sunken ship. Elway’s “promotion” into an advisory roll closed the book on his storied career.
But as we breathe that sigh of relief, we should also feel the pang of sadness knowing that the most important Bronco in the team’s history has been relegated to a figurehead, with no power, only an office and a parking spot.
Both, I imagine will be mostly empty. But the legacy of John Elway will be an ever present reminder of the success of both his eras, no matter how it finally ended.