When the Broncos called, Gary Kubiak couldn’t say no. It was the team Kubiak spent his entire nine-year playing career with. It was the team run by his close friend and former teammate, Broncos executive vice president John Elway.
So Kubiak left the Ravens after just one year (2014) as their offensive coordinator and became the Broncos head coach. His leadership is a key reason why the Broncos have reached Super Bowl 50. Handling quarterback Peyton Manning during the twilight of his career has not been easy. Neither has joining an organization that had Super-Bowl-or-bust expectations.
Yet, Kubiak has navigated some difficult situations successfully, leaving Elway with no doubt he made the right call to fire coach John Fox last year, after the Broncos had won four straight AFC West titles.
“The hot seat that Gary stepped into was hotter than any seat in the league,” Elway told reporters following the AFC championship game. “We had great success before he got here and to be able, for him to come in…the things he had to handle, not many guys would have handled it as well as he has.”
Kubiak originally intended to remain with the Ravens, even issuing a statement that he was staying after several teams wanted to interview him for head coaching positions. But when Elway called, Kubiak listened. Considering the Broncos are in the Super Bowl, and the Ravens finished 5-11, many Ravens fans also wish Kubiak had stayed. But unlike the Ravens, who were decimated by injuries and simply didn’t play well enough, the Broncos kept finding ways to win, and have landed on the game’s biggest stage.
On Tuesday, Kubiak thanked Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and coach John Harbaugh for the year he spent with the Ravens, something Kubiak has done often.
“Working for John, for that organization, for Ozzie, for Steve Bisciotti, really helped me as a football coach, watching them operate, watching them do things,” Kubiak said. “To have chance to come back her with John (Elway), I feel very fortunate.”
Kubiak has won three Super Bowl rings as an assistant coach – one with the 49ers, and two with the Broncos. But winning a Super Bowl as a head coach would be even more special. Kubiak is very happy with his decision to join the Broncos. He hopes the decisions he makes Sunday work out just as well.