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John Elway back at work for the Denver Broncos; Joe Ellis named team president

9:44 AM, Jan 5, 2011   |    comments
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Appropriately, No. 7 arrived at the Broncos' Dove Valley complex around 7 a.m., dressed in a blue shirt with an orange tie slung around his neck.

Elway and the Broncos agreed to terms on his new front office gig Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning, he got to work as the team's 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," Owner Pat Bowlen stated in a news release Wednesday. "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."

A news conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon to formally introduce the most famous athlete in Colorado, who really needs no introduction.

Elway, who won two Super Bowls with the Broncos during his 16-year career, will weigh in heavily on most decision making at Dove Valley.

The former Broncos quarterback has also achieved success off the field since his retirement from football. He led the Arena Football League's Colorado Crush to a championship in 2005 as its owner and CEO.

Bowlen also announced Wednesday that Chief Operating Officer Joe Ellis was promoted to the role of team president.

"Having worked with Joe Ellis for 16 years, I have the utmost confidence that he is the right person to lead this entire organization as club president," Bowlen stated. "The expertise he has demonstrated on both team and league initiatives will allow him to thrive with the enormous responsibilities that accompany directing a franchise that means so much to this region and its fans."

One of Ellis' new responsibilities as team president will include speaking on all matters involving the franchise.

The team is keeping General Manager Brian Xanders in his current role, so there will be checks and balances at the top in regards to personnel, scouting and the draft.

Elway's first order of business in his new role with the Broncos will be to lead the search for a coach to replace Josh McDaniels, whose 22-month misadventure left the Broncos embarrassed and in need of a major makeover.

The Broncos are coming off their worst season in their 51-year history, a 4-12 debacle that exposed McDaniels' many personnel blunders and was marked by the Spygate II videotaping scandal that cast them as cheaters.

Elway will interview Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey on Friday in Atlanta for the vacant head coaching position, then return to Denver to interview Eric Studesville, who was promoted from running backs coach to interim head coach following McDaniels' Dec. 6 ouster.

Elway also is expected to push Stanford's Jim Harbaugh to interview. A former Stanford star, Elway served as honorary captain for the Cardinal's win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Monday night.

The Broncos have won just one playoff game since Elway retired in 1999 following his second straight Super Bowl title, and they haven't reached the postseason in five years.

Mike Shanahan was fired after a run of mediocrity in January 2009 and McDaniels was plucked from Bill Belichick's staff in New England.

McDaniels was kicked to the curb last month but wasn't thrown under the bus -- Ellis said the Broncos erred in giving him so much power, when they made him the head coach and de facto GM with final say on personnel matters. The then-32-year-old had never had either job before.

The new coach won't have so much latitude with the roster.

McDaniels traded away Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler and Peyton Hillis, and failed to use any of his 19 draft picks on an inside linebacker or defensive tackle. The Broncos were one-dimensional on offense and had the league's worst defense in 2010.

The Broncos have just a half dozen picks in April's draft, although their loss Sunday to San Diego was their franchise-record 12th defeat, securing the No. 2 overall pick in April.

McDaniels traded away several picks for players who didn't pay immediate dividends in his short stint in Denver, including two along with Hillis to Cleveland for quarterback Brady Quinn last March -- when he had already decided to make a move for Tim Tebow on draft night, which cost him three more picks.

McDaniels also traded the Patriots several draft picks for past-their-prime players Russ Hochstein, LeKevin Smith and Laurence Maroney, none of whom had any impact in Denver.

Elway retired with the most wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history, going 148-82-1. He engineered an NFL record 47 comeback drives and was second in yards passing (51,475) and third in TD throws (300).

Elway spent the 2010 season as a marketing consultant to the Broncos following eight years as co-owner and chief executive officer of Denver's AFL team. Elway worked closely with Bowlen, who owned one-third of the arena team.

"You think Broncos and you think Elway and Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey and Terrell Davis," wide receiver Eddie Royal said. "That name is the first name you think about and he put his heart and soul into this organization, so it's great that he's coming back. And he's going to help us out. You know that he's a winner. You know that he knows the game. And he's been to Super Bowls, so he knows what it takes."

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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