John Elway

John Elway Biography

Athlete, Football Player (1960–)
American football quarterback John Elway won two Super Bowl titles during a highly successful 16-year playing career with the Denver Broncos.


Born on June 28, 1960, in Port Angeles, Washington, John Elway was selected with the first pick in the 1983 NFL draft. The strong-armed quarterback went on to earn nine Pro Bowl selections and appear in five Super Bowls for the Denver Broncos, winning two of them. Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004, he was named executive vice president of football operations for the Broncos in 2011.

Early Life

Professional football player and executive John Albert Elway Jr. was born on June 28, 1960, in Port Angeles, Washington. A star football and baseball player at Granada Hills High School in Los Angeles, California, Elway elected to attend Stanford University even though his father, Jack, was the head football coach at San Jose State University.

The talented quarterback went on to throw for more than 9,000 yards and set five major NCAA Division I-A records during his four years at Stanford, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a senior. Elway also continued to show promise in baseball, briefly playing for a New York Yankees minor league team in 1982, but was clearly best suited for gridiron success. He was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 National Football League draft by the Baltimore Colts and traded to the Denver Broncos shortly afterward.

Pro Football Career

With his cannon arm and scrambling ability, Elway immediately boosted a team that won just two games the year before he arrived. He led the Broncos to the Super Bowl in 1987 and '88—a season in which he was also named NFL MVP—though they were easily defeated both times. After Denver was blown out by the San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl XXIV in 1990, Elway found himself saddled with a reputation for being unable to win the big game.

Elway did his best to overturn that reputation by engineering dozens of fourth-quarter, game-winning drives throughout his career, and his efforts finally paid off in his twilight years behind center. With running back Terrell Davis shouldering much of the offensive burden, the Broncos held off the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII to give the quarterback his long-awaited ring. The following year, Elway overwhelmed the Atlanta Falcons with 336 passing yards and a rushing touchdown to claim his second straight title and Super Bowl MVP honors. He announced the end of his outstanding 16-year career a few weeks later.

Elway compiled 51,475 career passing yards, second in NFL history at the time of his retirement, and 300 touchdowns, which ranked third. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, he earned a well-deserved berth in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

Post-Playing Success

Elway remained involved with Denver-area business interests after his retirement, running two steakhouses and designing a line of products for Bassett Furniture. He also devoted his time to fighting child abuse through his work with the Elway Foundation.

Transferring to football operations, Elway became co-owner and chief executive officer of the Arena Football League's Colorado Crush in 2002. He was named AFL Executive of the Year in 2003 and presided over the team that won the ArenaBowl championship in 2005.

After working for the Broncos as a consultant in 2010, Elway was named the club's executive vice president of football operations in January 2011. With his shrewd personnel moves, including the hiring of head coach John Fox and the acquisition of veteran quarterback Peyton Manning, Elway rebuilt the Broncos into one of the NFL's powerhouse teams.

The Hall of Fame quarterback added one more honor to a lengthy list when his No. 7 was retired by his old school during halftime of a Stanford-Oregon football game in November 2013.

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