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Broncos give the keys to John Elway


John Elway officially has returned to the Broncos. The team announced today that Elway will serve as Executive Vice President of Football Operations, a very big title for a guy whose only NFL experience consists of playing for an NFL team.

The team also announced that Chief Operating Officer Joe Ellis has been promoted to club president, a title that more accurately reflects the power and influence that Ellis has been wielding since coach Mike Shanahan was fired nearly two years ago.

“John Elway’s leadership, competitiveness and passion for the Denver Broncos will position this team for long-term success through his work leading our football operations,” owner Pat Bowlen said in a team-issued release. “John has won championships as both a player and executive, and his experience will be a valuable addition to this franchise. He is the perfect fit for this role, and I am excited to welcome him back to the Denver Broncos.”

His role will consist of directing the team’s football operations, overseeing the head coach and G.M. (for now) Brian Xanders.

Elway also will have final say over the personnel decisions, making him essentially the General Manager. He’ll also lead the search for a new coach.

Sorry, folks, but we remain very skeptical about this. Elway is getting the job without paying the dues. Watching film with his father and running an AFL franchise isn’t the kind of experience necessary to run an NFL team, and it’s sort of an insult to the men who have earned their stripes by grinding for years, learning the business from the bottom up and earning each next rung on the ladder.

It’s almost as if Bowlen and Ellis don’t know what else to do, so they’ll give the keys to a guy whose only real qualifications are his ability to throw a ball and the fact that his presence will sell tickets and/or restore hope, false as it may be.

A press conference will be held at 3:30 p.m. ET, at which time the likes of Woody Paige and the rest of the Denver media will likely pucker up for Elway, Ellis, and Bowlen. Here’s hoping that someone out there has the independence and the will to ask tough questions about the confusing decision to give so much responsibility and power to a guy who really has done nothing to merit it.

Also, don’t rule out the possibility that Elway will realize that working for a living is a lot more demanding than being a retired football star, as Dan Marino learned seven years ago, when he resigned as Senior Vice President of Football Operations in Miami after only three weeks on the job.

“I knew it would involve a significant lifestyle change, but after further reflection, it became clear that those adjustments were ones that my family and I are not prepared to make at this time,’' Marino said at the time.

In other words, working for a living is a lot more demanding than being a retired football star.