In my four decades working in professional sports public relations, one of my favorite things is watching my team be part of “the big story,” the one that commands national attention and focuses the interest of all the newspapers, electronic media, fan sites and sports bars on Denver.
For fans as well, this is an exciting aspect of the games we follow.
For four straight NFL offseasons, the Denver Broncos have produced arguably the biggest story of the year.
Now, other PR people in other cities might argue this, but I think the following passes the taste test of commanding offseason storylines.
In 2010, the Broncos made the biggest splash in the draft with the dramatic and very much debated selection of Tim Tebow in the first round.
While debate has persisted from before the draft until this day–from the University of Florida to the Denver Broncos and now to the New York Jets—about his ability to pass at the standard NFL level, there can be no question whatsoever about his popularity or commitment to social values. He became an international phenomenon, and was a really big story that kept the Broncos national.
In 2011 the big story was not about a current player but about one of the absolute greatest players of all time. It was all about John Elway taking the gigantic step from legend on the playing field to being in command of the entire football wing of the Broncos with his appointment as Executive Vice President of Football Operations.
He has made so many dramatic moves in such a short period of time as to completely eliminate any questions that one may have had about his ability to fill the new role.
Any questions about John’s ability to make pivotal personnel decisions? Really? Nope. None.
That brings us to 2012 and the signing of Peyton Manning, which certainly ranks as the biggest free agent signing in the history of the NFL. I would have to get our a Thesaurus to find some new adjectives describing the magnitude of this signing. The contract signed by Manning and Elway is the only one in NFL history to bear the signatures of two Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks, one in, and one to come. Regular readers of this blog read a lot of Monday Morning Manning stats, all staggering, so we won’t repeat them again.
Sometimes repetition is redundant.
And that takes us to the present, 2013, as Elway strikes again.
On the same day in which the new pope was elected in Rome, the Broncos and Elway made news of our own with the signing of Wes Welker to a free agent contract.
Welker has led the NFL in catches (672) and yards (7,459) since 2007, his first season with the New England Patriots. He is the only receiver in the league to post five 100-catch seasons, and he is one of two (along with Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans) to have 18 games with 10 or more receptions.
In the second day of 2013 free agency Elway once again demonstrated that he is just as capable—and as likely—to make a big strike as an administrator as he used to on the field.
I have been honored to work with John Elway since his first day as a Bronco. I have never met anyone more competitive or more relentless.
Now he has transferred those same qualities to the front office.
The Broncos have been the biggest story in the NFL for four straight offseasons, and given the quality of the talent in personnel, coaching and the front office, it seems very likely that the cameras will continue to follow this team in 2013.
The NFL schedule comes out next month. Expect Broncos games to be at the center of that schedule for the absolute maximum allowable number of telecasts.
You cannot hide from a big goal. Once you have your sights set on it, you might as well embrace it and enjoy the ride.