Jason Elam - An Unassuming Leader

The most prolific scorer in Denver Broncos history is quietly turning into the teams single biggest offensive weapon of the 2004 season.

He's a soft spoken father of four, married to a former Denver Broncos cheerleader, who pilots his own private aircraft during the off-season.

He's also quite possibly the single biggest offensive weapon the Broncos have in their quest for postseason action in 2004.

In his eleven seasons with the team Jason Elam has become the most prolific scorer in franchise history, recording 1,313 points over a career that has included three Pro Bowl selections, a league-tying longest field goal of 63-yards and a consecutive point-after streak that spanned nearly ten years. His stats for the current season add further emphasis to his value as Denver's main offensive threat.

In game one against Kansas City Elam connects on 10 of the teams 24 points, securing the victory with a 45-yard field goal with 13:26 remaining to break a 24-24 tie.

Game two found Elam scoring the teams only points, field goals from 44-yard and 22-yards. His lone miss of the season came on a 51-yard attempt against a stiff wind late in the third quarter. In what would become a controversial decision, head coach Mike Shanahan rejects the opportunity to attempt a 40-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, opting to try one more running play before the attempt. A Quentin Griffin fumble erases any opportunity to overcome a 7-6 defeat.

Against San Diego, Elam connected on two extra points as well as adding three field goals, one from 22-yards, 23-yards and 43-yards to help secure Denver's second win of the season.

One week later Elam was responsible for nine of the Broncos sixteen game winning points, connecting on three out of three field goals, 49-yards, 50-yards and 23-yards. In contrast the Broncos offense accounted for only one touchdown, a five yard pass from Jake Plummer to tight end Patrick Hape.

Four games into the NFL's 2004 season and the twelve-year veteran has accounted for a team leading 37 total points, good enough for first place among kickers in the AFC, as well as a first place tie among the entire NFL. His efforts against Tampa Bay also earned the former Georgia native Special Team Player of the Week honors.

Yet surprisingly, when it came time to award the game ball, Elam was nowhere to be found, simply because the thirty-five year old's accomplishments have become so routine, they often go unnoticed. The honor instead went to running back Quentin Griffin, who made it through 13 carries and 66-yards without a fumble.

While I agree that Griffin's fumble-free game did deserved recognition, it certainly was not in a category to overshadow Elam.

The oversight was a mistake, to which Mike Shanahan assumes full responsibility.

"The only thing I regret after that game is that I didn't give him a game ball," said Shanahan. "He became a dad last week. He was staying up quite a bit at night, obviously, with the baby and his wife. For him to come in under those circumstances and have a couple clutch kicks is really a credit to him. He's a winner. I love the way he handles himself and the way he works."

Recognition, rings or respect? Elam is flattered by all three, but the main objective right now seems to be helping Denver advance, one more time, to the big dance, courtesy of the best right foot in the business.

"I don't really care about setting records," Elam told reporters afterward. "I'd like to play as long as it's fun. I feel good and I feel strong. Mentally, I'm not burned out on it. As long as it keeps going like that, I'd like to keep going.''


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