Elway back at the helm

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:36 AM ET

John Elway won five Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. He won back to back championships. About the only thing Broncos' fans didn't see him do was walk on water and most of them would bet he could've done that, too, if he'd tried.

Now all he has to do is ... well, do it all again as the team's new chief football executive.

Other than that, no pressure.

Elway was officially handed the reins to the football operations Wednesday. "John has won championships as both a player and executive, and his experience will be a valuable addition to this franchise. He is the perfect fit for this role, and I am excited to welcome him back to the Denver Broncos," owner Pat Bowlen said.

The Broncos are coming off their worst season in their 51-year history, a 4-12 debacle. Elway's first job is to hire a new coach. He will interview Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey Friday in Atlanta, then return to Denver to interview Eric Studesville, who was promoted from running backs coach to interim head coach following Josh McDaniels' Dec. 6 ouster.

While Elway's comeback as relit local passions it comes with no guarantees. The Broncos have won just one playoff game since Elway retired in 1999. They haven't been to the playoffs in five seasons and history suggests star players don't make great football executives.

Only twice before in the modern era has a former NFL star player taken the top executive role of a team's football operation with no previous league experience in coaching, scouting or personnel.

Dan Marino was the last to try and while he was a superb quarterback he lasted only three weeks as the Dolphins GM before packing it in.

In Detroit, many people wished Matt Millen's tenure had been so brief. Millen spent eight seasons and ended up with a team that went all season without a win.

"I hope John does better than I did, because I stunk at it," Millen said. Seems the only thing he didn't lose was his funnybone.

Elway does have some experience running an Arena League club and his former coach Mike Shanahan believes he can return Denver to its glory days.

"John is a very bright guy, real smart. I think just having John in the building will help tremendously because of his knowledge of players, just being around the game as long as he has," Shanahan said."


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