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John Elway Underwent Treatment for 'Vikings Disease' Dupuytren's Contracture

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2019

FILE - In this June 17, 2019 file photo John Elway, general manager of the Denver Broncos, speaks during a news conference at the NFL team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. The Broncos are the first team in the NFL to kick off training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019 and they’ll do it with Emmanuel Sanders on hand and also Drew Lock. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Denver Broncos president of football operations John Elway revealed he underwent treatment for Dupuytren's contracture in both his hands.

"I had it on both hands," Elway told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. "Both of my fingers are straight again. It's not something that can be cured. But they can definitely treat it. It has a chance to come back. My hands have come back great. We're trying to get the word out there, because a lot of people have it that don't realize they have it."

Bell explained Dupuytren's contracture, which prevents curled fingers from straightening, is known as "Vikings disease" because it is disproportionately found in people of Northern European descent.

Elway stressed he "didn't want to have another surgery" even when it was at its worse during the first few years after his retirement. A Broncos trainer referred him to a hand specialist, and he can now do some of the tasks such as gripping a football and playing golf that were so difficult for him prior to the treatment.

The Hall of Famer played quarterback for the Broncos from 1983 through the 1998 season and didn't rule out football as a contributing factor, even though he pointed out, "I don't know of any other quarterback who has had this."

Elway won two Super Bowls and an MVP as a nine-time Pro Bowler and one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

He has now shifted his attention toward helping the Broncos win another Lombardi Trophy from the front office, but things have trended in the wrong direction of late. After reaching the playoffs five straight years during a span that included two Super Bowl appearances, Denver has missed the postseason three straight seasons.

It is coming off a 6-10 campaign and third-place finish in the AFC West and will look toward Joe Flacco in 2019 to restore the Broncos quarterback tradition Elway built.