Another One Bites the Dust: Mike Shanahan's Curse on Denver (Circa 2006)

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Another One Bites the Dust: Mike Shanahan's Curse on Denver (Circa 2006)
Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

Hey, you remember Greg Eslinger?

Unless you're Mike Shanahan, I'm 98.7 percent sure you have no idea who I am talking about.

That's fine, because he's probably the only pick from the 2006 Denver Broncos draft you haven't heard of.

If Mike Shanahan ever struck gold with a draft class, 2006 would have been it.

Aside from Eslinger, who certainly was an acceptable sixth-round failure, the weakest player from that class was Chris Kuper.

Chris Kuper was the weakest player the Broncos took in 2006.

The rest of the line-up included: Jay Cutler, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Marshall, and Elvis Dumervil.

And then Chris Kuper, who has done fine for a fifth round guy.

Aside from Eslinger, it's a draft of complete Denver all-stars.

Now the funny part (funny in a tragic sort of way):

Of all that young, supreme talent, Dumervil is the only one who is still in a Broncos uniform.  And he is holding out.

The rest of the crew, seemingly bound together previously by Mike Shanahan's sheer will, somehow migrated out of Denver within a year and a half of Shanahan getting fired.

Its almost like a Shanahan curse on the class of 2006; he was the great puppeteer holding the pieces of such a talented puzzle together.

The irony of ironies is that if Denver had the defense they had last year, plus the rest of their 2006 draft class still together, they would likely be mentioned as a potential Super Bowl team for 2010-2011.

Angry yet?

Tony Scheffler's trade from the Mile High City to Motor City, USA was worth a lot more than a fifth round pick; it was worth all the hopes of what previously could have been for Denver Broncos fans.  The last Shanahan renegade was sent packing from Invesco Field with the door cordially slammed on his backside.

No one can claim he didn't do his fair part to earn that type of treatment.

Josh McDaniels can only be blamed so much.  He went into Denver thinking he had a team that included Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Tony Scheffler as content, cooperative NFL professionals.  When he jumped into the interview he never could have known how much animosity those guys would have held toward whoever replaced Shanahan.

The class of 2006 was Shanahan's modern crown jewel; Mike had been operating under the assumption that those were the guys who would lead him back to a Super Bowl in the twilight of his coaching career.

He had been operating under the assumption he could never be fired, an assumption his precious class was also operating under; when his contract was terminated his curse became very real whether he ever intended it or not.

The great curse on the city of Denver truly has no effect on what happens with Broncos players going forward.  For all anyone knows, Josh McDaniels could have it up his sleeve to put together a class of talent equivalent to or better than Mike Shanahan's biggest home run in this very year .

That is unlikely to happen; legendary, career coaches usually see one class that good if they're lucky.

Never say, "never."

The curse that Denver Broncos fans will always face can be summarized in one word: wonder .

As in: I *wonder* what might have happened if we had built a franchise on the careers of Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler, and Elvis Dumervil under a Shanahan coaching staff?

The answer might be, "whoops?"

It won't even matter if Josh McDaniels ends up being the modern version of Vince Lombardi and manages to take down a couple of Super Bowls behind a new franchise quarterback and kings of every position.

The truth is, all Denver Broncos fans will have to wonder.

And I'm afraid I can't predict when the stars will align for a draft that good to fall into the hands of the Broncos' brass again.

For the Mile High City, it could be a couple of days, a couple of years, or a couple of decades worth of waiting.

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