BEST SPORTS TEAM -- PROFESSIONAL - 2006
Readers' Choice: Denver Broncos
John Elway has long known the taste of pay dirt, but when the Arena Football League team he co-owns (with a couple of guys named Bowlen and Kroenke) won the Arena Bowl championship on June 27, 2005, in Las Vegas, the famous ex-quarterback took special satisfaction. The Colorado Crush had been a member of the league for just three seasons -- in 2003, the team's record was a dismal 2-14 -- and it wasn't until Elway replaced original head coach Bob Beers (a longtime Elway family friend) with AFL veteran Mike Dailey that the Crush's fortunes took a turn for the better, culminating with the 51-48 win over the Georgia Force in Arena Bowl XIX. Last year Elway explained the new pressures of being an owner: "When you get to the game, you feel helpless.... I'm used to touching the ball every down. When you're up in the box, you think about what could go wrong." On June 27, almost nothing did. And the team's 6-2 record so far this season bodes well for a shot at a championship repeat.