John Elway's Preseason Speech Continues to Illustrate His Value in Front Office

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2014

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:  John Elway, executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after they defeated the New England Patriots 26 to 16 in the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Everyone knows that John Elway was a great player, but he is continuing to show that he is among the best executives in the NFL.

The Hall of Fame quarterback went to five Super Bowls in his career and won his last two before retiring in 1998. Now he is on the brink of winning another as the top member of the front office. This is no small feat, as no one has ever won Super Bowl MVP honors and then won a championship as the team's top executive, according to Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman.

Freeman dissected what made Elway's journey so impressive, building a championship-level team just a few years after being named Vice President of Football Operations in 2011. The squad went 4-12 the previous season.

In the article, he quoted defensive tackle Terrance Knighton who said, "The big thing about John is accountability starts at the top with him and it filters down. You know what John has done as a player and executive. He's a great man and you strive to be like him."

Terrance Knighton was one of many big free-agent moves this offseason.
Terrance Knighton was one of many big free-agent moves this offseason.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Knighton is among the great free-agent class that Elway helped bring in this past offseason. Wes Welker, Louis Vasquez and Shaun Phillips each made big contributions throughout the year, and they are a big reason why the Broncos are one win away from winning a Super Bowl.

Elway did an amazing job of transforming the roster in a short period of time, signing stars like Peyton Manning while also making small additions that pay off later.

This alone would make him a great executive. However, as Knighton explained, he also takes responsibility for the play on the field.

For that reason, Elway was both seen and heard after the squad's 40-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 of the preseason. Manning recounted his boss's angry speech, via Chris Wesseling of

John pretty much laid it on us. He was not happy with that game. It was a butt-kicking, whether it was preseason or regular season. He was just sharing his thoughts that that won't be accepted under his reign as kind of leader of this organization along with (owner) Pat Bowlen. I was taking notes; a lot of players were taking notes.

I think guys got the message. I think if I was reading it the right way, he might have been giving the message to the coaches as well as the players. And everybody in that room I think got the message. I thought it was important. It was really the first time John had addressed the team. He actually did not address the team the entire time last year.

Defensive end Robert Ayers also explained the message from his perspective, per Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports:

It was a preseason game, and you don't hold too much onto it. But regardless, even with practice, we have high standards, and that was the message that got across and that's been the rallying cry ever since. We're going to work every week, regardless of what it is. We're going to put our best out there, whether it be preseason, game, postseason, whatever. That's what he expects of us, and that's what we try to do.

Denver entered the year with high expectations after putting together a 13-3 record the previous season. However, the 2012 version was eliminated in its first playoff game, falling short of its goals.

Elway was determined to not let it happen again. The players respected him based on his success on the field, and his words helped avoid complacency entering the regular season.

We will never know how much of an impact this speech had on the year, but it is hard to deny what Elway has done overall. He took over an organization that was struggling and helped create one of the most complete rosters in football.

The nine-time Pro Bowler discussed what it was like to build the team with NFL Network's Rich Eisen:

Still, it sometimes takes a little extra to create a champion. Not only did Elway find the players and the coach that could win, he also cultivated a winning atmosphere in the locker room from Day 1.

This speech shows what makes Elway so special. He is someone who is willing to do every little thing necessary to help his team win. Regardless of whether the Broncos win Super Bowl XLVIII, he has proven to be one of the best in the business.


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