DENVER (CBS4) – Former Denver Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe was in Denver on Thursday to be the keynote speaker for the Junior League of Denver’s “The Journey,” which raises funds for the literacy efforts in the Denver metro community. But he also found some time to talk about football.
Sharpe told CBS4’s Vic Lombardi that he likes how Broncos boss John Elway has attacked the free agency market this offseason after spending $110 million on three players.
“He’s attacking free agency like how I attack my training. I save nothing for the trip back, I’m all in,” the Hall of Famer said. “He looks at it and says, ‘I’m not worried about 2015, 2016, 2017.’ ”
Sharpe said he knows some fans think Elway is spending too much money on the “now” and not enough on developing, but he agrees with Elway’s approach of stacking up the defense for next season.
“That’s not how he thinks. He realized that there are some areas that his football team is lacking. He tried to address those issues head on in free agency,” Sharpe said. “Now he’ll go out, with the draft coming up less than two months away, and try to add to that. But he understands that he has a team, they’re going to score points. But the problem is, they can’t give up all those points.
“You need playmakers, and that’s where they lost the (Super Bowl). Seattle had playmakers on that side of the football. They were able to take the football away, put the ball in the end zone. We need to be in the situation that if Peyton Manning is not MVP, the Broncos can still win a football game. And I think John tried to address those issues.”
So Elway went and signed a proven pass rusher in defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who is healthy. They also signed cornerback Aqib Talib of the Patriots and safety T.J. Ward of the Browns, who are also both near the top of the league at their positions.
Back when he played, Elway was known for his gunslinger mentality. Now he’s doing the same running a football team. Lombardi asked Sharpe if he was surprised at Elway’s ability to make unpopular decisions, such as letting fan favorites Tim Tebow and Champ Bailey go?
“He looks at the situation and says, ‘You know what? I know what you’ve been, but we can’t win championships on what you’ve been. We win championships on what you are,’ “ he replied. “He didn’t feel that some of the guys who he let go could help him get to that next step … sometimes the best decisions are the least popular decisions. I don’t envy him in that choice in that decision making process.”
Sharpe said he thinks Elway did what was right for the Broncos.
“But where did he get all this money from?” he said with a laugh.
Sharpe said he was surprised with some of the acquisitions Elway was able to pull off.
“But knowing John like I know him, he wants to win … that’s it … he’s not worried about a year from now, two years from now,” he said. “He knows he has Peyton Manning for 2014 and he’s trying to surround him with as much talent as he can on both sides of the football to bring a Super Bowl to Denver.”
A lot of general managers are more concerned with job security – making sure they have a job three or four years down the road, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Elway.
“If you look at what he’s been able to do – he got the biggest free agent in NFL history to come to his franchise. That speaks volume. DeMarcus Ware was a free agent for 12 hours, and he convinced him.”
Lombardi asked Sharpe if he know how Elway was closing the deals so quickly?
“Because when you get in a room with a guy who has won, you want to win. DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward; they want to win,” he replied. “The guy wants to win, he doesn’t play favorites. Everybody wanted Tebow to stay, but he was like, ‘I can’t win a Super Bowl with this guy.’ That’s what it came down to.”
A fan favorite who jumped ship for a big pay day was wide receiver Eric Decker. Sharpe said he can’t blame Decker at all for leaving a great team like the Broncos for more money.
“I understand. He would want to stay, and I’m sure if the Broncos had offered him $15 million, or a similar contract, he would have stayed. But … this man has a family, and at the end of the day, yeah, you want to win championships, but you want to be financially secure once you’re done … he gave the Broncos four great years, but you can’t pay everybody.”
He said that’s what happens when teams get good.
“The foxes – the other teams – come raid your henhouse to get your chickens.”
“The Journey” presented by the Junior League of Denver was a CBS4 Sponsored Event and it turned out to be a huge success. Sharpe said he was proud to be the keynote speaker and tell his story of the difficult process he went through to become a success.
LINK: Junior League of Denver
– By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com