The ice rink rocked at the good old hockey game with the best kind of lung-rattling loud. Some fool from Minnesota wearing No. 18 on his Ugly Christmas Sweater took a run and delivered a cheap shot to the head of Avalanche goalkeeper Darcy Keumper. And Colorado fans all went insane.
Then my cell phone rang.
“This is John,” he said Monday afternoon in a distinctive voice, so authoritative that it cut through Ball Arena’s happy noises that knocked on my eardrums like a bell.
The Duke of Denver wanted to chat.
If it had been anyone other than John Elway on the phone, I might have asked him to call back later because I was busy watching a team, unlike the Broncos, who actually have a chance of winning a championship.
“Where are you?” asked Elway.
“For a hockey game,” I replied.
“Do your children play?” asked Elway.
“No, my children can not skate backwards. And they’re grown up now, John. So their youth sports career is long gone. I’m for the Avalanche match, ”I told Elway as I crawled out of my seat in the press box for a quiet walk. “So what? Let’s talk.”
Elway wanted me to know the worst kept secret in Denver: The Broncos will be put up for auction. Better sooner than later. And Elway is struggling to become part of an ownership group that buys the team.
“I’m not interested in being the face of the franchise. That’s the job of the next coach and quarterback and general manager George Paton,” said Elway.
“Whoever buys the team will be the face of the franchise, and that’s how it should be, because the next owner will invest a lot of money in the Broncos. But after being in Denver for almost 40 years and being involved with the team as “playing or in the front office for most of these years, the Broncos are a part of my life. I want to support the new owner where I can. That’s the role I want.”
I asked Elway if he had an agreement with a potential buyer to be part of a formal bid for the Broncos.
“No,” said Elway. “I’m not formally engaged to a particular group or another.”
Nearly 40 years after arriving in Colorado as a rookie phenomenon from Stanford, Elway does not want to be practical with the Broncos’ leadership near 24/7, but he also does not want to say goodbye. It’s hard for a quarterback to take his ball and go home.
So at age 61, when he was able to retire to the golf course, Elway does what he did best while throwing 300 touchdown passes for the Broncos from 1983-98. The old QB is trying to extend the game and is trying to log on with a business magnate who has the financial capacity to buy a team that could conceivably sell for $ 4 billion. Elway would like to remain involved in the new ownership in a limited role, outside the limelight, as an advisor to the primary owner.
Well, Mr Elway, I would also like to own a piece of the Broncos. I could have a lively conversation while eating jumbo shrimp in the owner’s box at Empower Field, do not you think? But so far, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has not reached out to me.
And I get it: a multi-billionaire might think it’s more fun to go with Elway. So I would happily help Elway while fishing for a sip, and pass on his phone number to any business magnate who might think it would be groovy to rub elbows with a football celebrity from the A-list.
The sale of the Broncos could not only produce a bidding war (or so hope the heirs of Pat Bowlen), but some juicy clickbait headlines on the Internet.
“The last thing I want,” Elway told me, “is for this sale to be a John Elway-versus-Peyton Manning thing.”
But just as badly competitive as Elway has been all his life, it’s hard not to think: After he was unable to pull the trigger on a deal when Bowlen offered him a 20% stake in the Broncos for more than 20 years ago, Elway would solidify. if he’s forced to see Manning get part of the team now.
It’s only a matter of time before Broncos president Joe Ellis decides he’s ready to open the bid. While the most qualified buyer for a $ 4 billion item is not always the highest bidder, there will be no homeowner discount given to any potential owner who recruits either Manning or Elway
“That’s 100% correct,” Elway said. “There will be no discount for me. And that’s how it should be, because this is a business deal.”
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