For 17 years, Jason Elam simply went about his business of being one of the best kickers in the NFL.
On Wednesday, March 31, Elam retired from pro football the same way he came in, as a member of the Denver Broncos.
Elam is more than worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Time will tell whether or not he gets that honored distinction.
He leaves the game fifth in NFL history in both points scored (1,983) and field goals made (436). He set a league record by scoring at least 100 points in 16 consecutive seasons. His 63-yard field goal against Jacksonville in 1998 tied Tom Dempsey’s NFL record. He retires as the Broncos’ all-time leader in points scored (1,786) and is second in wins (152).
But it isn’t Elam’s astounding statistics that leave the biggest mark. It isn’t even his uncanny ability to consistently come through in the clutch. Elam’s greatest attribute is his humble, gracious, and unselfish character.
Even in officially announcing his retirement, Elam was more interested in reliving special moments than listing out personal achievements.
“There’s so many memories. And that’s what I hoped for today, that this wouldn’t be a celebration of a career but a celebration of relationships and friendships,” Elam shared before pausing while holding back tears.
“And that’s what I’m really grateful for.”
I remember first meeting Elam one year at training camp in Greeley. A mutual friend introduced us and it was impossible not to be both drawn to and impressed by Elam’s sincerity and genuine personality.
He always had time for an interview. He always had a smile at the ready. And it never seemed to be forced.
Wednesday, Elam’s appreciation for his 15 years with the Broncos also flowed naturally. He spent more than ten minutes thanking people who made his years in Denver possible and meaningful.
“You can’t spend 15 years with one organization and not feel a special bond,” he admitted.
Now, Elam turns his attention to other endeavors, including writing books and helping others.
“We (his family) have spent a lot of time up in Alaska and that’s where we’re at right now. We’ve got a home just south of Anchorage. I’m a pilot and I’m heavily involved in some of the Christian ministries up there. We go out to the bush villages and try to do some good out there. I’m (also) heavily involved in some of the Middle East ministries we support. There’s a little bit of everything I really enjoy doing. I’m not going to be bored at all.”
Elam certainly kept things interesting on the field throughout his time with the Broncos. Now that his time to step away from the game has come, he leaves content.
“There’s nothing bitter about it (retiring),” Elam said on Wednesday. “I’m very happy with the career that I had. I gave it everything I’ve got and I feel good about it. This is a dream come true for me to go out like this.”
“Physically, mentally, emotionally, you know when you’re done. It has been an awesome, awesome journey for me,” Elam added.
And for us, too. Thanks for the memories, Jason. You are truly one of a kind.
Where does Elam rank in your list of favorite Broncos? He is certainly near, if not at, the top of my list.
Thanks for reading.