John Elway enjoyed a career in pro football that was truly unique. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Elway's NFL milestones include being the first quarterback to start in five Super Bowls while also being the first former former player to win a Super Bowl as a general manager.
"I don't have that desire to climb another mountain again. I've been to the summit a bunch of times in 62 years," Elway recently told the Denver Gazette. "It was time to step aside and let all the new people take over. I've been with the Broncos for 28 years over the past 40 years since I came to Denver, and I can't think of a better ownership that [the late Broncos owner] Pat [Bowlen] could have as his successor.
"The Walton-Penner ownership group wants to win, intends to win and has the wherewithal to win. I'll always be a Bronco and a fan, and I told [CEO] Greg Penner I'm here if they call on me for anything."
While he has nothing left to pursue in football, Elway still has some professional itches he'd like to scratch. He once said that he'd like to play a villain in a cowboys movie, but he'd settle for a role on one of the most popular TV shows currently running.
"They aren't making many Westerns anymore," he said. "Maybe I'll call Kevin Costner and get a part in 'Yellowstone' TV series.''
Acting aside, Elway plans to spend his newly found free time golfing, traveling with his wife and spending time with his grandchildren. Car, restaurant and other businesses will also keep Elway busy in his post-football life.
As a player, there aren't many who enjoyed a better career than Elway. The league's MVP in 1987, Elway led the Broncos to three Super Bowls over a four-year span in the late '80s. Late in his career, Elway helped the Broncos win back-to-back titles. He was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXIII in what was the final game of his career.
Many forget that Elway's first Super Bowl win was one of the greatest upsets in NFL history. The Broncos were a massive underdog against Brett Favre and the rest of the defending Super Bowl champion Packers. But led by Terrell Davis' 157 yards and three touchdowns, an opportunistic defense and Elway's momentum-changing leap, the Broncos upset the Packers, and in the process ended the NFC's 13-year winning streak over AFC teams in the Super Bowl.
"We didn't have a lot of big names,"of that Broncos team. "We had John, but John was at the end. And he didn't care about throwing for 5,000 yards. He just wanted to win."
Elway the executive was pretty good, too. During his nine seasons as general manger, the Broncos won four division titles, two AFC titles and one Super Bowl. Elway played an integral role in Peyton Manning joining the Broncos prior to the 2012 season. Like Elway, Manning retired after helping the Broncos win a Super Bowl.
"It's awfully hard to get the Super Bowl, but we did it seven times," Elway said of his time with the Broncos. "Peyton came to Denver, and we made it to the Super Bowl (a 43-8 loss to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII). After the blowout I knew we had to drastically improve the defense. We got DeMarcus Ware, Aqib [Talib], T.J. Ward and exceptionally good draft picks, and we won the Super Bowl with defense. I thought that season was a great comeback."
Elway would know a thing or two about comebacks, as he led the Broncos to 31 fourth-quarter comebacks during his playing career. But with no more football games to win, Elway is looking forward to the next phase of his life. He referenced a quote that has often been used by Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson when discussing his post-football mentality on life.
"My body took care of me for so long," he said, "I now want to take care of my body in the QTR: Quality Time Remaining."