The Vilification Of Denver Broncos GM John Elway Has Reached Critical Mass

John Elway has been vilified throughout Denver's negotiation with Von Miller. Perhaps its time to take a step back, rather than trounce the man who's resurrected the Broncos twice.

In the last week, I’ve heard and read how John Elway is ‘cheap’, ‘money-grubbing’, ‘demands hometown discounts’, and similar accusations. Of course, that Shylock also penned a five-year contract for linebacker Brandon Marshall that was dunned in several quarters for being too rich. No one mentioned the irony.

In a culture in which immediately isn’t soon enough, the fact is that this evil cretin was the savior of the Denver Broncos franchise and since then has led it to two Super Bowl berths and a Lombardi Trophy, with two AFC Championships and five divisional titles—to say nothing of what he did for the club as a player. The Lombardi was three and a half months ago. Emotions change quickly.

The reality is that Elway is none of those things. Soon after taking office and taking over a shattered franchise, Elway hired Mike Sullivan as Director of Football Administration. He said at the time that 'Sully' would be fully responsible for contracts and their relationship with both the cap and with projected player outlays, with incessant updates on those numbers. They believe in developing players, rather than drafting them. It’s worked.

I’ve heard cap estimations from usually respected contract sites that cannot have the same level of information. I’ve read them from site writers who don’t have a third of it, too. Each tends to have hostile views and words for Elway.

So? They don’t have all the information. If not, it’s just hot air. The Fletcher Cox contract made it almost certain that the Broncos will re-sign Von Miller. They’re looking at beating Ndamukong Suh’s guarantee and handing over $114.5 million dollars over five years. The only alternative is letting Von try to sit out a full year rather than play for his franchise tag, which is hardly insulting money for a kid with a history of suspension from drug use as well as his public negotiation.

Miller has taken to the media with his ‘feelings’. If he has any feelings other than exultation at how much money he’s about to have, he’s losing touch with a very human reality—money can change us in very ugly ways.

I’m no apologist for the NFL. I’ve regaled about their monstrous healthcare actions, about Tex Schramm telling Gene Upshaw that ‘We’re the ranchers, you’re the cattle”, Commissioner Roger Goodell’s refusal to set up standard offense-penalty rules and many other things. I love the game and overall, too often don’t respect the actions of the league.

I’m not suggesting that Miller not be paid. He’s one of the best players in the game. He’ll be compensated for that. These players also commonly make more in promotions that in football. It becomes, in Mike McMahon’s words, monopoly money.

What I am saying is two-fold. First, Von should show the maturity to let his agents handle the contract. That’s what they’re there for. Posting photos with one of the best players in history cropped to express his anger is childish.

Talking in the media about his feelings is cheap—he knows that the Broncos won’t respond (the story that Denver leaked the numbers doesn’t fly—they’d been around for days). Taken in conjunction with his suspension, it suggests to me that he hasn’t really matured yet. Super-stardom commonly has that effect, but it’s still disappointing.

Secondly, we’re very quick, as a culture, to accuse people with far more skill, knowledge and accomplishments of being foul. We spend very little time understanding what they’ve done to be precise and rational. There are a limited number of dollars. Every post-Super Bowl offseason, a row of players are lined up with their hands out. Sullivan has projections we don’t and insight we lack.

He shares that with Elway, who talks to the coaches and coordinators; not just about any player, but about who is an option for replacing much of that production, and what scheme might replace it at all. Whether I’d rather see Miller in orange or not, those are scenarios that you have to go through. Anyone recall Elvis Dumervil? It happens.

Dove Valley is assuredly working through that daily. They are looking at ways to meet Von’s demands and how to structure the guarantees. They’re looking at other options, just as their jobs require.

I think that Von will get his money. I don’t know whether he’ll take it. That’s going to be up to him. It’s something no one else has proposed to me. But it’s a real consideration when you’re trying to sign someone in his stratospheric financial circumstance. The egos can be incredible.

I honestly hope that Von grows up enough to talk out his feeling with his friends or his mother, rather than reporters. But that’s entirely up to him. It won’t change the Broncos offers.

Putting the right money out? That’s up to Elway. Calling him names won’t change anything.

I hope, and believe, that he will. Personally, I’d rather he was slow to dole out that kind of money rather than fast —potentially leaving the Broncos in years of trouble. Look around the AFC West. It’s happened plenty of times.

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Doc Bear is a Featured Columnist for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @DocBearOMD.

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