Second John Elway era starts

January, 5, 2011
1/05/11
12:55
PM ET
The worst-kept secret in Colorado was officially revealed Wednesday when the Denver Broncos introduced legendary quarterback John Elway as the team’s new executive vice president of football operations.

“John Elway’s leadership, competitiveness and passion for the Denver Broncos will position this team for long-term success through his work leading our football operations,” Denver owner Pat Bowlen said in a release by the team. “John has won championships as both a player and executive, and his experience will be a valuable addition to this franchise. He is the perfect fit for this role, and I am excited to welcome him back to the Denver Broncos.”

Chief operating officer Joe Ellis was promoted to president and general manager Brian Xanders will remain.

But the new direction of the Broncos will revolve around Elway, as expected. This is directly from the team’s release: Elway will have final authority over the Broncos’ football operations and lead the club’s head-coaching search. He will report directly to Bowlen and Ellis on all matters involving football operations.

The importance of Elway’s solution has been known for weeks. Now it’s time for him to officially go to work. Elway has to prove Denver made the right decision by entrusting him instead of an established executive to lead the team.

This is more than a ceremonial position. Elway is going from legendary quarterback to the man in charge of restoring the team’s glory by wearing a business suit. We’ve seen numerous legends try this in the past in several sports and they haven’t always been successful.

Elway has his work cut out for him, and the Broncos hope his nearly unmatched success as a player and his small-scale success as the leader of the Colorado Arena Football League team will result with the turnaround of the Broncos.

Elway’s first duty is to find the right coach for Denver after the Josh McDaniels disaster. His early targets are Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh and Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.

Whoever he picks, Elway has to lead the Broncos to the end zone. At 4-12 and with several personnel issues, this is the front-office equivalent of the "The Drive" against Cleveland for Elway.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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