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NFL Hall of Fame - John Elway

Updated on December 13, 2012

Elway ~ Hall of Fame

"Ive only lied to the media twice  that I recall  in my career. Halfway through my career, I started getting questions about whether someday I might find my way to Canton. Every time, I said that I hadnt given it any thought. That was the first lie.
"Ive only lied to the media twice that I recall in my career. Halfway through my career, I started getting questions about whether someday I might find my way to Canton. Every time, I said that I hadnt given it any thought. That was the first lie.

John Elway

NFL Hall of Fame Gunslinger

"This one's for John"

Port Angeles, Washington is quite a tourist spot, it is usually what happens when a town is mentioned in a best selling book, and the very popular Twilight saga books have added to the charm of this city that sits on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula. But ask a die hard Denver Bronco fan what Port Angeles means to them and you will hear the name John Elway. For it was 49 years ago, on June 28, 1960 the first Denver Bronco to be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame was born.

John Elway played for the Denver Broncos for 16 amazing seasons. There were 234 games that included a NFL-record 148 wins. No one can dispute the fact that John Elway was one of the greatest to have ever played for the Denver Broncos. And it it no doubt that this is quarterback is one of the best gunslingers to ever play the game.

In his HOF enshrinement speech, he spoke about one of his careers proudest moments. Wade Phillips, had called him the Lou Gehrig of quarterbacks and this is what he said;

"As a quarterback, I didn’t always have a great game, nor was I always healthy, but my teammates knew that I’d always show up. I didn’t always succeed, but I persevered. And finally after 14 seasons, with the help of my coaches and teammates, I got to experience the feeling of winning a Super Bow l."

John Elway
John Elway

Young John Elway

John Elway rookie player
John Elway rookie player

Player # 7 Denver Broncos

A/P Photo John Elway
A/P Photo John Elway
"The Drive"- John Elway
"The Drive"- John Elway

NY Giants Super Bowl

John Elway Denver Broncos  A/P Photo
John Elway Denver Broncos A/P Photo

A Great Football Player

John Elway the Scrambler
John Elway the Scrambler

John Elway Timeline


Selected by the Baltimore Colts with the first overall pick of the NFL Draft. In the famed class of 1983 it is John Elway selected as the first quarterback. Jim Kelly, Ken O'Brien and Dan Marino are just a few others from that year. But Elway does not want to become a Colt and he makes his feelings known. In May of that year the Broncos and the Colts work out some trades.

On September 4 John Elway makes his career debut. In a season opener the Broncos win one at Pittsburgh. Elway completes just 1 of 8 passes for a whopping 14 yards, he is intercepted once and sacked 4 times. Elway struggles for the next several games and the Broncos replace his as starting quarterback. Steve DeBerg steps in and Elway sits on the sidelines for the next 4 games. By December John Elway performs what he will do for a total of 47 comebacks against the Colts, a uniform he never wanted to wear. In a game that the Broncos were trailing 19-0, he throws 3 late in the game touchdown passes and the Broncos win the game 21-19. No interceptions and he throws for 345 yards.


Elway leads his club to a 12-2 regular-season record in his 14 starts.


January 11
In the AFC Championship game at Cleveland, Elway leads the Broncos to a game-tying touchdown. This is the game that will be forever remembered as "The Drive."

January 25
Elway passes for 304 yards in his first Super Bowl appearance, his team is beaten by the New York Giants. Denver leads 10-9 at halftime but New York scores 24 consecutive points to start the second half and goes on to take the Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl XXII . 1987 in its regular season is marred by a strike, but Elway is named the NFL MVP by the Associated Press and the quarterback on The Sporting News' All-Pro team.

1988 - 1989

January 17
Mile High Stadium with 76,197 fans in attendance, Elway and the Broncos become the AFC Champions. This is a game that is still remembered for The Fumble when Browns running back Earnest Byner fumbled at the Broncos' 3-yard line with 65 seconds remaining

January 31
The Broncos are favored to win Super Bowl XXIV against the San Francisco 49ers. Elway opens the game throwing a 55-yard touchdown to Ricky Nattiel on Denver's first play from scrimmage. At the time it was the earliest touchdown any team had ever scored in Super Bowl history (Jerry Rice in Super Bowl XXIX would go on to break that record; Devin Hester would break Rice's record years later in Super Bowl XLI). From there everything just falls apart, as the Washington Redskins roll to a 42-10 victory.

Being the professional football player that he was, he did not hide out from the media nor downplay his performance that was recorded as the worst by a quarterback in Super Bowl history (10 of 26, 108 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs, 19.4 rating). Yet when asked if he wanted to go back to the Super Bowl after 3 losses he responded that he wanted to go back every year, even if his team kept losing.

The Greatest Gunslinger

1998 MVP Super Bowl Champion
1998 MVP Super Bowl Champion
John Elway The Greatest Denver Bronco
John Elway The Greatest Denver Bronco
John Elway with Dan Reeves. A contentious relationship
John Elway with Dan Reeves. A contentious relationship

John Elway

The Player


It would be It took Elway another eight years before Elway and the Denver Broncos would return to play in Super Bowl XXXII in 1998.


  • January 11
    For the third time in four seasons Elway leads the Broncos in Mile High Stadium to the AFC championship game and take the title from the Cleveland Browns. He passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns in the 37-21 win.
  • January 25
    All great players experience some low points in their careers and in one of the lowest points of his career, Elway's in his third appearance in a Super Bowl faces Joe Montana and San Francisco 49ers. This game his third attempt at holding up the Vince Lombardy trophy. San Franciso wins by a score of 55-10.

September 17
Beginning of the season he comes right back after that last Super Bowl loss and in a late comeback game the Broncos on 4th-and-10 with the clock winding down in the fourth quarter, Elway completes a 49-yard bomb to Vance Johnson. This sets up a game-winning field goal against the hated Kansas City Chiefs.


October 4
In another late stunning comeback the Denver Broncos meet the Kansas CIty Chiefs and at Mile High Stadium, the Chiefs lead the Broncos 19-6 with less than four minutes remaining. And then Elway throws touchdown passes to Mark Jackson and Vance Johnson to pull off game win.

January 4

  • In another come-from-behind win, Elway shines his postseason magic in a win over Houston at Mile High Stadium. After losing 21-6 at one point, the Broncos trail 24-23 with the ball on their own 2 yard line with no timeouts left and 2:07 on the clock. On the ensuing drive, Elway scrambles for a first down on a 4th and 6 play completes a 44-yard pash to Vance Johnson to help set up the game-winning field goal by David Treadwell. Elway calls the pass to Johnson the "ugliest pass of my life. " Some call it "The Drive II."


  • Dan Reeves, who had an often-contentious relationship with Elway, is replaced as Denver's coach by Wade Phillips.
  • Elway leads the AFC with a 92.8 passer rating, 551 attempts, 348 completions, 63.2 completion percentage, 25 touchdown passes and 4,030 yards. This season stands as the lone 4,000-yard campaign in Elway's 16-year career.

With Mike Shanahan

A/P Photo
A/P Photo

Elite Elway

A True Winner
A True Winner


  • In the 1994 season, the Denver Broncos management felt Wade lost control of the team. In comes Mike Shanahan, who served as a mentor for Elway as a Denver assistant early in Elway's career. Elway becomes just the seventh player in pro football history to pass the 40,000-yard mark in total passing yards.

September 17

  • Elway has a beautiful Hail Mary pass that Rod Smith catches for a 43-yard touchdown as Denver defeats Washington, 38-31.


  • The Denver Broncos enjoy a 13-3 regular-season record and Elway becomes only the third player in NFL history to throw for 45,000 yards in a career.


  • January 4
    The last time the Broncos play in the postseason it was the 1993 season, the Broncos are shocked at Mile High Stadium by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are in just their second season of existence. Elway tried to rekindle his fourth-quarter magic by throwing a touchdown pass to Ed McCaffrey in the game's final minutes to cut the Jaguars' lead to 30-27. But Jacksonville kills the rest of the clock to preserve the upset.

Milestone from the 1997 Regular season
Elway sets a personal high by tossing 27 touchdown passes as he leads Denver to a 12-4 regular-season mark. Elway also becomes just the second quarterback in NFL history to eclipse the 50,000-yard mark in total offense.

December 27

Avenging the upset loss to Jacksonville a year before, Elway throws for 223 yards and a touchdown to lead the Broncos to a 42-17 stomp of the Jaguars.

Lombardi Lift

Super Bowl John Elway
Super Bowl John Elway

Elways Leaps

Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers A/P Photo
Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers A/P Photo

Super Bowl

Winning Lift
Winning Lift

I am a Champ!

A Winner Denver Broncos John Elway
A Winner Denver Broncos John Elway

Elway A Great Quarterback

Young John
Young John

Denver Bronco

John Elway The Superbowl Years


  • January 4
    Behind 10-7 early in the fourth quarter in a game hosted by the Kansas City Chiefs, Elway completes a 43-yard pass to Ed McCaffrey to the Kansas City 1-yard line. Two plays later, Terrell Davis scores on a run to help the Broncos win it, 14-10.
  • January 11
    The Broncos played their second consecutive playoff road game, and they move on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-21. Super Bowl XXXII awaits Elway's fourth appearance.
  • January 25
    Signature moment : Denver and Green Bay were locked in a 17-17 tie late in the third quarter of Super Bowl XXXII when the Broncos faced a 3rd and 6 at the Green Bay 12. Elway dropped back to pass but then ran through an opening in the Green Bay defense. He dove for the first down, only to get whacked by safety LeRoy Butler. Elway spun around in midair like a helicopter, but had reached the first-down marker. Davis soon scored to give the Broncos a 24-17 lead. It’s only fitting that the most memorable play of Elway’s Super Bowl career is not a spiraling pass hanging in the air, but a gritty rush attempt near the goal line. Elway also rushed for a 1 yard TD in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXXII.

November 22
Elway completes a 5-yard pass to Willie Green against the Oakland Raiders to join Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to throw for more than 50,000 yards in a career.

December 6
Elway throws a touchdown pass to Shannon Sharpe to give the Broncos a 35-31 win over the hated Chiefs. This is the 47th -- and final -- game-winning drive of Elway's career. This game also marks the top yardage game of his career, as he throws for 400 yards.

December 27
In what turns out to be his final regular-season home game, Elway goes out in style by flipping four touchdown passes against AFC West rival Seattle game. That tops off a 14-2 regular-season record for Denver. Those touchdown passes allow Elway one of the greatest to ever play football, to reach 300 touchdown passes for his career. This is also the 148th regular-season win for Elway, an NFL record.


  • January 9
    In a showdown with Miami's Dan Marino, the last remaining active member of the quarterback "Class of '83", Elway and the Broncos avenge a regular-season loss by trouncing the Dolphins, 38-3.
  • January 16
    Elway earns his fifth Super Bowl trip by rallying Denver from a sleepy first half to trip up the New York Jets, 23-10. The Broncos are held scoreless in the first half, but a 47-yard completion to Ed McCaffrey sets up an 11-yard scoring pass to Howard Griffith to get the Broncos rolling. In his final game at Mile High Stadium, Elway is prodded into taking a victory lap around the field where he starred since 1983.
  • January 30
    In a destined game, Elway meets the Atlanta Falcons, a team coached by Reeves, Elway's former coach and sparring partner. Elway's shining moment comes in the second quarter, shows off the gunslinger that is was, an 80-yard touchdown to Rod Smith to give the Broncos a 17-3 lead that they would not give up. That would turn out to be the final touchdown pass of his career, but he would add a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to help seal a second consecutive Super Bowl championship.

April 24
Quoted while playing in a golf tournament, Elway pretty much tells a Denver TV station that he is retiring, saying: "For so many years everything in my family has revolved around me. It's time for that to change. I really accomplished everything I wanted to. There's no real upside to coming back."

Pro football Hall of Fame
Pro football Hall of Fame

John Elway Leaves the Game

Hall Of Fame

On August 8, 2004 at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium, John Elways daughter Jessica presented her Dad into the HOF. The words she spoke to her dad as she introduced him really touched my heart and I thought it would be fitting to share a few of her words here.

"As proud as we are of my dad, we'd be just as proud if he had not made the Hall of Fame. I can't tell you how much he has taught us about life. He has taught us to be leaders, to set goals, to dream and to never, ever, ever make excuses. Above all, he has taught us to be tough. No one knows more than his children how tough my dad is, how competitive he is, how badly he wanted to win those Super Bowls." ~ Jessica Elway

And when John got up to speak he said this about his dad, "My dad didn’t so much teach me how to play football, but why to play it. He taught me to compete, to never give up, to play every down like it’s your last. He taught me to appreciate the game, to respect it, to play it like it was meant to be played. He taught me to enjoy my successes and learn from my failures. And above all, he told me, “Make sure when you go out with your offensive linemen, you pick up the tab.”

John Elway - truly is one of the greatest football players to ever take to the field.

wavegirl22 Best of the NFL
wavegirl22 Best of the NFL

Great Comments

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    • wavegirl22 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York, NY

      Larry - I think what I love most about writing about football is that there is always something or someone that I have yet to learn about. .and that is what happened when I decided to write this one. . after my Hub on the Greatest Moments in the NFL is when I realized how little I knew about Elway . .I just assumed I didnt like him . .as he well why rehash bad memories. . ha . .kinda the same ones you have. . anyway the more I read the more I was inspired to highlight him .. and so I did. . and I thank you for visiting this one. . always nice to see you:)

      drbj - he truly was a role model and something the kids today really can use . they dont seem to make them like Elway much anymore. . I enjoyed learning about him , and I must say as I watched and read about him . .I cried . .I love these kind of real life stories. ok I am rambling here. . anyway as always thanks for the visit!!!

      Right Black - Raider fan duly noted! Seems like the Raiders just may be putting a decent team together for the coming season:) and thanks for coming by and giving me a good giggle. . ha Howie Long!

      Jai - basketball ? I think it was baseball but it could have been basketball too . he was and is one of those all around guys. Kinda like the way I was growing up .. ha .. at a tall 5 feet. . I was one hell of a basketball player in my day!!! :)))))

    • Jai Warren profile image

      Jai Warren 

      8 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

      Hey WG. Elway was such a great competitor. This was a fantastic Hub, your so detail oriented. It's hard to believe he's been retired that long. If I'm not mistaken, he was offered a pro baseball contract out of college, the guys got talent. And, on top of that he's a scratch golfer! Good Job, Ciao.

    • Right Black profile image

      Right Black 

      8 years ago from Huntington Beach, California

      Great hub and I'm your resident Raider fan. You could have put a picture of him under Howie Long though. :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Shari - I wasn't aware of that story about Elway's amazing performance in the Dec 83 game. Expecially after being "benched."

      He was a GREAT quarterback amd role model - he still is.

      Thanks for all the in-depth research - it shows.

    • lsfloro profile image


      8 years ago

      Shari...This is a very good hub even though it's about John Elway. He was one of those players that could carry the team on his back when needed. As good as Elway was, all of my memories of him are bad ones. Keep up the great writing.... Larry

    • wavegirl22 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York, NY

      Cags- You know I never was a hugh Elway fan either but when I started looking at some videos for some reason I was quite atrracted to reading more and more about him, hence this Hub. Thanks for the encouraging words here! Really need it in this final stretch!

    • Cagsil profile image


      8 years ago from USA or America

      That's quite a hub Shari! Damn woman. Looks awesome. I'm not much of an Elway fan, but he is Hall material, so this is a great tribute to him. Nice to see football ideas coming from you. ;) Thank you. :)


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