How Have the Denver Broncos Not Fired John Elway?


John Elway is somehow still employed.

The Denver Broncos’ general manager and president of football operations is still getting paid to make decisions for the franchise despite a wealth of evidence that he has no earthly idea what he’s doing. Years of mismanagement has brought Denver to where it is now: an irrelevant franchise with no hope moving forward. It’s long past time for the Broncos to put Elway out to pasture.

Since Peyton Manning’s retirement following a Super Bowl title in January of 2016, the Broncos have crumbled under Elway’s watch. In 2016 they went 9-7, then following that up by going 5-11 in 2017 and 6-10 in 2018. After 2018’s debacle of a season, Elway declared with not a hint of irony, “We’re not that far off.”

The Broncos are “not that far off” from competing in the same way I’m “not that far off” from landing a date with Scarlett Johansson.

That led the Broncos to actually attempt to compete in 2019, instead of doing the prudent thing and rebuilding. Rather than trading pieces that could help bring back draft capital, he actually traded a draft pick to acquire Joe Flacco. Yes, Joe freaking Flacco is who Elway acquired to save his franchise. Good luck with that, Johnny.

Frankly, it might not matter if Elway had acquired a ton of picks– we all know he wouldn’t use them wisely. Other than drafting Von Miller with the second pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, he’s repeatedly wasted high picks on risky or flat-out terrible players. He spent his 2014 first-rounder on wholly average cornerback Bradley Roby, wasted his 2015 first on walking IR designation Shane Ray (who is out of football) and threw away his 2016 first on Paxton Lynch (ouch).

Elway has selected just two players who have become Pro Bowlers in their time with the Broncos. Two! Oh, and worth noting, both of those players — Miller and Julius Thomas — were selected during Elway’s first draft in 2011, when former GM Brian Xanders was advising him.

That kind of draft mismanagement is how you field a team that gets outclassed by the Oakland Raiders to open the season. I’m sure reading back his draft history will have Elway reacting like he did when Will Ferrell (as Harry Caray) congratulated him on winning a Super Bowl, then told him to get his teeth fixed:

Perhaps nowhere has Elway’s roster mismanagement been more obvious than the quarterback position. Elway signed Peyton Manning in 2012 and with the future Hall of Famer under center, the Broncos won four division titles and reached two Super Bowls, winning one. Other than lucking into Manning, his evaluation of signal-callers has been nothing short of hilarious.

The list of quarterbacks he’s acquired is long and wildly undistinguished. He’s drafted Brock Osweiler, Zac Dysert, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Drew Lock. While also signing Case Keenum to a two-year, $36 million deal in 2018. All of those guys worked out great. This year he actually traded a pick for Flacco and selected Lock in the third round. Given his track record, I’m not optimistic about either’s future.

Listen, I get why it will be difficult for the Broncos to fire Elway. He’s a franchise legend. He’s a Hall of Famer who has had a hand in bringing three Super Bowl titles to Denver. Yeah, it’s hard to push out someone you love. It’s the same reason you never do business with family members. But at this point, Elway is clearly in over his head as an NFL executive.

It’s long past time for the Broncos to let Elway go and hire a professional as general manager.