John Elway talks Harbaugh and Tebow

January, 5, 2011
1/05/11
9:00
PM ET
John ElwayRon Chenoy/US PresswireJohn Elway made it clear that the next coach will have to believe in Tim Tebow.
The Duke is back in charge in Denver.

In his introductory news conference to announce that he is the new front-office leader of the team, legendary Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway took command.

He made it clear that it will be his job to regain the fan base's trust that was lost during the Josh McDaniels debacle. Elway spoke on what he is looking for in a coach (he is going to call Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh) and he made it clear that any coach who doesn’t believe in Tim Tebow, probably isn’t the man for the job. McDaniels may have been the person responsible for bringing Tebow to Denver, but the quarterback has won over the rest of the organization, including Elway.

Here are some highlights from Elway’s conference, with quotes provided by the Broncos’ public relations department:

On whether he has maintained discussions with Harbaugh since the Orange Bowl

“I have not, not yet. We are going to put a call into him and see where he is falling and hopefully we get that done today or tomorrow and find out exactly where he is. Obviously, he just got back from the Orange Bowl. I think they got back yesterday and he had some different things that he had to do, so we do have a call into him (and) hope to hear back and see what direction he is going to go ... I did see Jim down there (at the Orange bowl). I did mention to him that I understood everything that was going on and did not want to take a lot of his time with the game that he had to play and the everything that he had to do. But, I did mention to him that if he decided that he wanted to jump to the NFL and wanted to go in the NFL direction that the Denver Broncos would be interested.”

My take: Elway is no on the record about wanting Harbaugh. Let’s see if the Broncos can get him. The San Francisco 49ers have a head start -- they are meeting with Harbaugh on Wednesday.
On his list of coaching prospects and what he hopes to learn from that process

“Well, I think it is important for us -- No. 1, we’ve got (New York Giants Defensive Coordinator) Perry Fewell; we’ve got permission to talk to Perry. We are going to talk to (Broncos Interim Head Coach) Eric (Studesville), we are talking to (Atlanta Falcons Offensive Coordinator) Mike Mularkey on Friday, I believe and we still have another list that we have to get a hold of some guys to get permission to talk, which we haven’t gotten yet so I’m not going to go any deeper than that.”

My take: I expect more names to emerge. The Denver Post reported that New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will get an interview. He can’t interview until the Saints’ playoff run is over. They play at Seattle on Saturday.

On whether there are any financial constraints to hiring the Broncos’ next head coach

“No … Mr. Bowlen has always done everything he can to put the best football team (on the field) and have the best coach that he can possibly have. That will be the same with the next coach.”

My take: If the Broncos are serious about pursuing Harbaugh, money better not be a problem. Harbaugh will be looking for big money and somebody will give it to him.

On what he thinks of Tebow

“We had personnel meetings this morning with everybody -- with the whole staff -- and got through that and obviously we talked a lot about Tim. I have asked everybody if they had a chance to do the deal over that the Broncos did last year to get Tim (whether they would do it again) and they all said, ‘Yes.’ I think that he has been everything that everybody expected him to be as far as a person, a man, a leader, and what everybody heard about him -- his intangibles … I don’t think a coach is going to (not want to coach Tebow), to be dead honest with you. Everyone is aware of what Tim Tebow is about and so I think that there is still a question -- obviously you have guys way over here that say there is no way, you have guys over here that think (otherwise) -- there are really not a lot of guys in the middle, but I think that anybody that comes in here and is going to be around Tim Tebow is going to understand that this guy is something special as a man and a person, willing to work with him to give him that opportunity to be the player that he wants. So, I don’t believe that anyone is going to come over and say, ‘I don’t want Tim Tebow.’ If they do, then maybe they are not the right guy for the job.”

My take: Tebow is the future in Denver. There’s no way he isn’t going to be the starter in 2011. It's clear Elway is a believer.

On whether he would like to re-sign Champ Bailey

“Yeah, and I think obviously Champ has been a great player for a long time, he has loved the Denver Broncos, he would love to stay here, and I like Champ Bailey. He is a guy that I know if I was under center and I looked out there and saw (No.) 24 out there, I would want to go the other way like everybody has. So, he has been a great player for the Broncos. Obviously, that is something (where) we are going to have to sit down with (GM) Brian (Xanders) and the new head coach, find out where we are and make that decision; but Champ has been a great player for the Broncos and he was a guy that gave his all for the Broncos.”

My take: I know Bailey really respects Elway. Perhaps this move will help Bailey stay in Denver.

On who will make the final decisions on draft day

“It is going to be a consensus, but again (GM) Brian (Xanders) has more experience with the draft and I think the one thing, if you ask me that question, I would say what is the compensation for that -- if that were to happen what would be the compensation? And, it would be my job to make sure that we got the correct compensation. Now, there may be a guy in the second that Brian and the head coach say, ‘We can’t pass up this guy, but here is the offer.’ The bottom line is that we are going to come out with a consensus out of that group and the way I look at it, especially early, is the consensus is going to be between Brian and the head coach and I will be all ears in that situation, but as time goes on get more involved in those decisions. But, the bottom line is my job -- if there is a difference between Brian and that head coach then it would be my job to break that tie.”

My take: The more minds the better. This wouldn’t work if Elway came out of his restaurant and chose the draft picks by himself.

On whether the head coach will be the voice of the Broncos going forward

“That is going to change. I think that it is important and I think that is one reason why we have lost a little bit of the connection with some of our hardcore fans, because there has only been one touch point for the fans. There is no longer only going to be one touch point. You are going to have a touch point with me, you are going to have a touch point with Brian and you are going to have a touch point with the head coach. I will tell you this: The head coach has to understand his responsibility of what it means to be a Denver Broncos head coach and the relationship that we have with the fans and the relationship that the fans want to have with the head coach.”

My take: This was a direct shot at the McDaniels’ era. The Broncos know exactly how low McDaniels’ approval rating was before he was fired.

On whether he will lean on anybody outside the organization for advice

“I have had a couple of conversations with (Former Cleveland GM) Ernie Accorsi and he has been very helpful. I talked with him for about an hour on the phone. If you don’t know who Ernie was, to have that conversation, it was a nice conversation because we has actually the one that drafted me in Baltimore and then he was in Cleveland when we had ‘The Drive,’ so thank God there was no animosity and he took my call, but there is a guy that has a great deal of experience, has been a very successful GM in the NFL for a long time (and) he is now retired. So, I said, ‘I am hopeful that you will continue to take my calls because there are a lot of things that I would like to bounce off you,’ and he was very generous and said he would love to be able to do that. I look forward to learning from him and seeking his advice.”

My take: This is a really cool story. That’s it. I just wanted to pass it along.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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