- Height: 6' 3"
- Weight: 215 lbs.
- Date Of Birth: June 28, 1960
- Hometown: Port Angeles, Washington
- College: Stanford University
- Mascot: Cardinal
- High School: Granada Hills High School
- Position: Quarterback (QB)
- Draft: first overall, Baltimore Colts
Some individuals are blessed with the ability to excel at more than one sport. A few of these individuals are so blessed that they can choose which sport they want to play professionally. John Elway was such an individual. Starting in high school and continuing through college, he excelled in both football and baseball; he was even drafted out of college by the New York Yankees. NFL record books show, however, that Elway decided on football.
Elway was born in Port Angeles, Washington on June 28, 1960. His family moved often when he was young, finally settling in Southern California when he was 16. Elway played his final two years of high school football at Granada Hills High School. Once he graduated, Elway was one of the highest recruited football players in the country. College scouts loved his capabilities as a dual threat QB, meaning he was accomplished at running and escaping pressure, along with his impressive passing ability. Elway received over 60 scholarship offers, and he eventually decided on Stanford University, where he could thrive in the school’s potent passing-oriented offense.
While at Stanford, Elway established himself as one of the best quarterbacks around. Even though he never led The Cardinals to a bowl game appearance, Elway consistently posted impressive stats, and by the time he graduated in 1983 he held nearly every Stanford and Pacific-10 passing and offensive record. He finished college with 9,349 yards passing, 77 passing touchdowns; he won two Pacific-10 Player of the Year awards, and was an All-American as a senior. The last college game of Elway’s career is by far his most memorable, despite the fact that it was a loss. The conclusion of that game included what has simply been called “The Play” and it occurred against the California Bears, Stanford’s arch-rival. The Cardinals were ahead by one point with only seconds remaining in the game. California took the ensuing kick-off and, using five laterals in the process, returned it for the game-winning touchdown.
Elway became the first overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft. Although he was selected by the Baltimore Colts, Elway refused to play for them. He believed that the Colts could not offer him the opportunities he desired to win football games. The Colts complied with his wishes and traded him to the Denver Broncos, with whom Elway played his entire career.
Elway’s NFL career was filled with awards, accomplishments, records, and wins. He became the Broncos’ starting quarterback when the starter was injured during his rookie year, a role that Elway did not relinquish until his retirement. He officially established himself as a premier quarterback during the 1985 season when he passed for over 3,800 yards and threw 22 touchdown passes. In 1986, Elway led the Broncos to the first of what would be five Super Bowl appearances. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls, was named NFL MVP in 1987, and is the NFL’s all-time leader with 148 games won as a starting quarterback. However, there is one record that tends to shine above all the others on Elway’s portfolio. During his NFL career, he led the Broncos to 47 game-winning or game-tying fourth quarter drives, the most ever for any NFL quarterback.
Although Elway was at the helm for a record five Super Bowls with the Broncos, he had to suffer plenty of disappointment before he actually won one. His first three Super Bowls, 1986-87 and 1989, saw him and his Broncos get beat rather soundly. It was not until eight years later that Elway would get another shot at winning a title, and this time he was ready. He led his team not only to win the Super Bowl in 1997 but also to a repeat in 1998. It was a fitting end to an outstanding career. Soon after the 1998 victory, Elway announced that he was retiring from professional football. He ended his career with 51,475 passing yards, 300 touchdown passes, 4,123 completions, and 3,407 rushing yards, making him the only player in NFL history with at least 50,000 career passing yards and at least 3,000 career rushing yards. On August 8, 2004, Elway’s career was honored and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Career Highlights, Awards, and Accolades:
- Passed for 5,711 yards and 49 touchdowns in high school.
- Passed for 9,349 yards and 77 touchdowns while at Stanford.
- Led nation with 24 touchdown passes in 1982.
- Two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year: 1980 and 1982.
- Consensus First Team All-American in 1982.
- Finished second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1982.
- Elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
- Voted NFL MVP in 1987.
- Five-time starting Super Bowl quarterback: NFL Record.
- Won two Super Bowls: 1997 and 1998.
- Named Super Bowl MVP in 1998.
- Nine-time Pro Bowler: 1986-87, 1989, 1991, 1993-93, and 1996-98.
- Holds numerous Broncos all-time team records, including: most total offensive yards, most total touchdowns, most career passing yards, and most career touchdown passes.
- Ranks first all-time in NFL history with 47 game-winning or game-tying fourth quarter drives.
- Ranks first all-time in NFL history with 148 career wins as a starting quarterback.
- Ranks first all-time in NFL history in number of times sacked: 516.
- Ranks third all-time in NFL history with 51,475 career passing yards.
- Ranks fourth all-time in NFL history with 300 career passing touchdowns.
- Only player in NFL history with at least 50,000 career passing yards and at least 3,000 career rushing yards.
- Only player in NFL history with seven seasons in a row of at least 3,000 passing yards and at least 200 rushing yards.
- Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 8, 2004.