The life and career of NFL legend John Elway
Before Payton Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers arrived on the scene, we were all
sure that there would never be another like John Elway.
Elway is a 2-time Super Bowl champion who spent his entire NFL career playing for the Denver Broncos. He is now the President of Operations at the Broncos and has been part of their team since 2011.
When he retired, Elway held many NFL records, including the oldest Super Bowl MVP winner. Let’s take a look at his career and life so far.
The College Years
Elway studied economics at Stanford University – where he played both football and baseball.
Elway was more celebrated for his baseball skills than his football skills at college. He was even drafted by the New York Yankees as a part-time player in 1981.
Stanford’s football team has not had much success since the early 20th century and not even Elway’s skills could take the team to a Bowl.
That is not to say that Elway was not a talented player at college – he completed 774 passes for 9,349 yards, 77 touchdowns, and 39 interceptions over 4 years. He also scored 5 rushing touchdowns during this time.
One of his big accomplishments was that in 30 out of 42 of his games for Stanford he passed for over 200 yards. ESPN named him the 15th best college football player of all time.
He graduated in 1982.
The NFL Years
Elway is famous for spending his whole career with the Denver Broncos. Most people don’t know that he was originally drafted by the (Baltimore) Colts in the 1983 Draft.
He was picked first overall by the Colts but did not want to play for them because of their poor record. He tried to negotiate being moved to a West Coast team, under threat of leaving the NFL for the MLB. He was eventually traded to the Broncos.
Fans at the Broncos were incredibly excited to have Elway joining their team as before he had even started playing for the NFL pundits were calling him one to watch.
Elway spent 10 years with the Broncos, and they made it to the Super Bowl in 5 of those years. He was invited to the Pro Bowl for 9 of those years, and he was named NFL MVP in 1988.
Elway led the Broncos to the Super Bowl 5 times in total, winning 2 of them. The team won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998. After the 1998 victory, Elway retired, making him the first player to ever retire after winning the Super Bowl. The only other player to do that since was another Broncos quarterback, Payton Manning.
Up until 2015, Elway held the record for most Super Bowl starts, Tom Brady now holds this record. Both quarterbacks playing in the Super Bowl this year will be making their Super Bowl debut, which one do you think will come out on top? Find all the NFL Super Bowl odds here.
Outside the NFL
Elway was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2000 and into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2004.
In 2002, Elway invested in the Area Football League. He was the co-owner of the Arena Football team Colorado Crush. He continued to own the team until the league was disbanded in 2008. In 2007, Elway was made chairman of the league.
Elway also owns 4 up-market steak houses around Denver. One of which can be found in Denver Airport. Elway owns 5 car dealerships in the state, as well.
In 2010, Elway began talks to join the management team of the Broncos and did eventually become part of the team in 2011. It was Elway’s call for the team to purchase Payton Manning after he became a free agent.
When Payton Manning joined the team they won their division 4 times, the AFC twice, and made it to the Super Bowl once.
Under Elway’s leadership, the team eventually won the Super Bowl in 2016. This victory was at Super Bowl 50 – Elway was also honored at this event along with the other 49 Super Bowl MVP winners. Elway is technically a 3-time Super Bowl winner because of this victory. In 2020, Elway was promoted to President of Operations for the Denver Broncos.
Elway has 4 children with his first wife, who he met in college – they divorced in 2002. He met his second wife in 2008 and they married in 2009. Elway has 8 grandchildren.