|Birthdate:||June 28, 1960|
|Birthplace:||Port Angeles, WA|
|MVP:||Super Bowl XXXIII|
|Other:||Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.|
Sixteen years to the day he was acquired by the Denver Broncos, legendary quarterback John Elway bid an emotional farewell to the NFL and the Denver Broncos, the franchise with whom he became synonymous. Saying he "can't do it physically anymore," Elway broke down in tears as he officially announced his retirement at a news conference this afternoon. "It's time for me to move on," Elway said. "I can't do it physically anymore. It's really hard for me to say that."
The announcement comes a little more than three months after Elway earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXIII with one of the best games of his career. If he decided to return, Elway would have had an opportunity to become the first quarterback in NFL history to win three straight Super Bowls. But after a year in which he missed all or parts of six games due to sore hamstrings, a pulled rib muscle and back problems, it was apparent the physical toll of another season overshadowed the lure of a potential Super Bowl "threepeat" for Elway. "It was a tough decision, but it wasn't," Elway said. "I don't look at it as retirement, I look at it as graduation. I'm graduating from pro football."
And the 38-year-old Elway indeed passed with flying colors. He retires second in NFL history to Miami's Dan Marino in passing yards (51,475) and completions (4,123) and is third to Marino and Fran Tarkenton in touchdown passes with 300. Elway is the all-time leader in victories as a starting quarterback with 148 and also the only quarterback to start five Super Bowls, surpassing the likes of Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach and Jim Kelly.
But perhaps Elway will be best known as the master of the comeback. He directed a record 47 fourth-quarter or overtime drives to win games. "I think he was the best quarterback to ever play the game," said Broncos coach Mike Shanahan at today's news conference. "He was always under constant scrutiny and pressure, and what was so impressive was his concentration level and poise. "He wants to win as much as everyone I've been around and it's very gratifying that for all his hard work he got a Super Bowl win and an MVP in his last two years."
Despite his injuries in 1998, Elway finished with a career-best passer rating of 93.0 in 13 games. He passed for 2,806 yards and 22 touchdowns, was selected to start his sixth Pro Bowl and joined Marino, a fellow member of the fabled draft class of 1983, as the only quarterbacks to throw for 50,000 career yards.
Elway then wrote a storybook ending in the postseason. Facing his former Denver coach, Dan Reeves, Elway completed 18-of-29 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score to lead the Broncos to a 34-19 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII at Pro Player Stadium in Miami.
In January of 1998, Elway finally earned a championship in his 15th year when the Broncos upset the Green Bay Packers, 31-24, in Super Bowl XXXII. Although Elway threw for just 123 yards, he scored on a one-yard run and made a handful of key plays.
Elway led the Broncos to three Super Bowl trips in a four-year span from 1986 to 1989, but Denver lost all three games by a combined score of 136-40. In the Elway era, the Broncos won two Super Bowls, five of six AFC championship games, seven AFC West titles and nine playoff berths.