Brian Xanders' ouster as the Broncos' general manager isn't exactly a shock. After all, his association with the discredited Josh McDaniels regime made it surprising that he was able to hang on for as long as he did.
Why did his luck finally run out?
John Elway, executive vice president for football operations with Denver, actually provided a hint among the platitudes contained in the statement he released late yesterday afternoon, when the switch was announced. "Although it was an extremely difficult decision, it became clear that it was best for both the Broncos and Brian to part ways," Elway said. "I believe a change to the structure of our football operations will be mutually beneficial, allowing the department to improve its efficiency while affording Brian the opportunity to continue his promising career with another NFL team."
Brian Xanders, left, with John Fox, Pat Bowlen and John Elway at the press conference introducing Peyton Manning.
Translation: Xanders was kept around to help Elway ease into his front office job. But now, after a year in the gig and his successful recruitment of Peyton Manning (which extricated the team from the seemingly intractable Tim Tebow situation), Number 7 is no longer in need of training wheels. That made Xanders not just expendable, but organizationally redundant.
Xanders wasn't exactly a newbie when he was elevated to the GM position four years ago. As the Broncos' goodbye notes, he spent fourteen years with the Atlanta Falcons in assorted coaching and player personnel positions, and was on the staff when the A-town crew made it to the franchise's first and only Super Bowl -- where the Falcons were defeated by none other than John Elway and the Broncos.
Nonetheless, he remained a subordinate in Denver, consistently staying in the background as McDaniels and, later, Elway played the public role as boss. While team sources always contended that Xanders was doing more than it seemed, the fact that he's not being replaced hardly offers a strong argument for this interpretation.
Will he be missed? Probably not by the public, to whom he was pretty much the Invisible Man. And that continues to be the case in the social media world. Note that the YouTube clip posted by ESPN about Xanders' departure misspells his name as "Zanders" in the title. And Elway, whose Twitter feed has become a go-to spot for fans seeking important team news, hasn't tweeted anything about Xanders at this writing. His only tweet yesterday was to congratulate veteran talk-show host Gil Whiteley on his 25th anniversary in radio.
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If Xanders reaches a similar benchmark, it'll have to be somewhere else.
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More from our Lists & Weirdness archive: "Peyton Manning-Tim Tebow memes, part 2: Laughing off neck injuries."