John Elway on possible Broncos front-office job: "You're either all in or you're all out"

This morning on 87.7 The Ticket, John Elway offered his most detailed and wide-ranging comments to date about the firing of Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels and the possibility of him taking on a new role in the organization. He doesn't aspire to be either head coach or general manager -- but he made it clear that he'd like to be involved with the franchise in some way if the fit is right.

Speaking from California to The Ticket morning hosts Vic Lombardi and Gary Miller, Elway first addressed his restaurant rendezvous with Broncos owner Pat Bowlen Monday night, mere hours after McDaniels was handed his head. He stressed that the get-together had been planned for "a couple of weeks" and "it was really just a dinner" -- although he acknowledged that McDaniels and a possible role for him with the team were part of the conversation.

About McDaniels's sacking, he said, "I was a little bit surprised, but I think they obviously made the move they thought they had to make." He added that, in his view, McDaniels is "a good football coach now," and "he's going to be a good head coach down the line" -- but "I think the Spygate deal was kind of the end of the road for him."

Can the Broncos use the rest of this season to lay a foundation for the 2011 campaign? Elway's dubious about that, saying, "Until you know what the next regime is going to look like, who's going to be the next head coach, I don't know how you build to next year."

That next skipper won't be Elway, however -- and he doesn't pine for the Broncos' general manager gig, either.

"I'm not interested in being a head coach and I'm not interested in being a general manager," he said. "I don't have the experience to pick those players day in and day out." He called talent evaluation "kind of an art form" that he doesn't feel he's mastered.

At the same time, he stressed that if he were to take a job with the Broncos' front office, it wouldn't be as a figurehead or glad-hander. He'd want real influence. "Obviously, football is what I know best," he noted -- and he said the six years he spent as the owner of the Arena Football League's Colorado Crush franchise helped broaden his knowledge base.

"That was one of the main reasons I did it -- to get that type of experience," he maintained. "There's not a lot of jobs in the NFL -- there are only 32 teams. So I did it for six years, and I was committed to it, and we won a championship in our third year." It was exciting to go from being a player to looking at the game from the management side of the equation, he pointed out.

He could have done something similar with the Broncos shortly after his retirement. Elway confirmed that he'd been given an opportunity to buy an ownership stake in the team, but he'd declined, feeling that the timing wasn't right for him.

Regarding a possible position with the team today, Elway said he and Bowlen discussed it at dinner on Monday, "but not in any kind of depth. I've talked to Joe Ellis about it, also."

Ellis is running day-to-day operations on behalf of Bowlen, who's no longer the team's major decision maker according to inside sources. Bowlen's has admitted to having assorted memory issues in recent years.

Elway hopes to "sit down at some point and have some meetings," in order to find out "what they want out of me, what they expect out of me. There's definitely going to be some conversations, and we'll see what happens going forward."

Later in the interview, Lombardi and Miller asked Elway about examples of great athletes returning to franchises where they once played and things not working out, focusing particularly on Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. Elway said that as he understood the Miami situation, Marino was given a very loose, open-ended description of what the team wanted from him and he subsequently realized he couldn't balance those requirements with his other interests -- and he praises Marino for recognizing it. He believes "you've got to commit to it... You've got to be there all the time," even if it means setting aside endorsements and other business opportunities.

That could be difficult for Elway, who owns car dealerships in California and Greeley and has his own line of recliners, among other things -- and he just lost millions as the victim of a massive Ponzi scheme. But he feels "that's part of the process, giving up the lifestyle... No question that's part of the equation, depending on what they want. You're either all in or you're all out. I don't think you can do it halfway."

Right now, Elway said, he's spending much of his time "fending off rumors or things people create -- mainly the media and what they create. I spend most of my time saying things aren't true."

The facts? While Elway stressed that "I love the Denver Broncos and what they're about, and Pat Bowlen, and what he's done for me," any future role in the organization "has to be good for the Broncos, and it also has to be good for me."

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