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Good Question: What Is VP Of Football Operations?

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Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway at Invesco Field at Mile High on Sept. 19, 2010.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway at Invesco Field at Mile High on Sept. 19, 2010. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Alan Gionet Good Question
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Written by Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4)- It’s a turnaround for John Elway – of course we’ve seen him spin his way toward a Super Bowl championship. A turnaround from player to manager.

He’ll be on the other side of the table, but on the same side of the effort – to make the Broncos winners again. With the Broncos current record, he may wish he’s been slammed to the ground by a 300 pound lineman.

But John Elway is a competitor, known for shaking those things off.

“He’s a Super Bowl champion and it doesn’t get anything better than that in football,” said former Broncos coach Red Miller.

We asked Miller about Elway in the hours leading up to the Broncos official announcement. He coached during the Broncos B.E. – before Elway, in the “Orange Crush” days.

Red loves a competitor and the team concept.

“And now everything is done for that team. Every little brick that you put in there – and we’re going to get there.”

Elway’s job puts him at the pinnacle of a triangular structure of NFL team organization, but below owner Pat Bowlen and Bowlen’s right hand man, chief operating officer Joe Ellis.

But then there will be John Elway, general manager Brian Xanders and a new coach.

“You’ve got to have people that can work together,” said Miller.

The three will work to find and recruit talent, make draft picks and make the cuts and cut the deals that keep a football team running.

There’s a budget there. Elway will have to ensure the team stays within the budget and the rules and regulations of the NFL.

Remember the deal that sent running back Peyton Hillis off to Cleveland for Brady Quinn? How can we forget. Hillis had over 1100 yards this season with Cleveland. Quinn kept the bench warm.

In the future, Elway will have a hand in deals like that. In the recent past, the decisions were made largely by coaches Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels.

While many thought Shanahan was capable of handling it, the common view is that McDaniels was out of his league.

“And it’s very likely that the plan will not empower the next head coach with the kind of authority that Josh was probably unfairly put upon him,” said Ellis after McDaniels’ firing. “And it’s also fair to say that we’ll stick to that plan.”

Results with big names in big office jobs in the NFL have been mixed. Bill Parcels was a hero after taking the VP of operations job with Miami after a 1 -15 season in 2007.

In 2008, Miami went 11-5. But Parcels isn’t there anymore after a change of ownership.

Miami was 7-9 this year, even with former Broncos star Brandon Marshall, who was traded for two second round picks under McDaniels.

Elway needed football management experience to have the credentials for the job. He earned some of them during his years as principal owner of the Colorado Crush arena football team. The league disbanded in 2009.

If you’re looking for a conspiracy, note that Pat Bowlen was a minority owner. Bowlen seems to have been helping Elway prepare. Elway made his own name in business with the development and ownership of a series of car dealerships toward the end of his playing career – which he sold at a huge profit.

It shows he knows how to trade on a brand.

But his biggest achievements have been in doing what so few have done on the football field.

“In a highly competitive business, John Elway is off the wall,” said Broncos spokesman Jim Saccomano.

There’s little heroism in crunching numbers, but it could hurt less than crunched bones as John Elway gears up a new part of his life and maybe a new life for the Broncos.

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