John Elway might be the greatest quarterback in football history. The rocket-armed quarterback led the Denver Broncos to five Super Bowls, including back-to-back championships, won an MVP award in 1987, and played in nine Pro Bowls. Before that, he was a record-setting star at Stanford University. He's a member of both the Pro and College Football Hall of Fame.
As a spokesman for the Topps football cards Gridiron Giveaway, Elway talked to SIKIDS.com about his card collection, whether he ever wanted to "pull a Favre," his Super Bowl prediction for this year, and that new guy in Denver: Tim Tebow...
SIKIDS.com: First of all, tell us about the Topps Gridiron Giveaway.
John Elway: Topps has been a partner with the NFL for 50 years. You go to toppsgridiron.com and one in every six packs has a Gridiron Giveaway code card, and you put that code in there and you get another card or NFL memorabilia. It gives you access to 50 years of vintage cards that Topps has, so if you’re lucky enough you get get a ’65 Namath or a ’58 [Jim] Brown or an ’84 Elway, all the good ones.
SIKIDS.com: Do you remember when your first football card came out?
Elway: Yeah, vaguely. Unfortunately that’s becoming a long time ago! But I do remember that. Especially because I was a collector when I was young, seeing yourself on a football card is very flattering and a lot of fun.
SIKIDS.com: Did you have a favorite card that you collected when you were a kid?
Elway: The one I always remember getting was a Jerry West. I also had a Roger Staubach football card. He was always one of my favorite players.
SIKIDS.com: We’ve seen Brett Favre leave and come back so many times. You were still a great player, coming off back-to-back Super Bowls, when you called it quits after the 1998 season. Did you ever consider coming back?
Elway: You know, you always have that itch. And you never know for sure whether it’s the right time to walk away. But having won two Super Bowls in a row, when I was looking at my career I had done everything I wanted to accomplish. And plus, at 38, you don’t heal like you used to. Physically, in my last year, I was breaking down a little bit. I was throwing the ball the best I ever had, but it was difficult to take those hits and I just couldn’t bounce back. So that’s why I thought it was a perfect situation for me to leave the game, even though you never really want to. It was the right time for me.
SIKIDS.com: You can’t be a superstar athlete without being a very competitive person. What do you do these days to satisfy your competitive drive?
Elway: That’s the most difficult thing, to replace that [competitiveness] and that camaraderie in the locker room. Being able to have that test every Sunday in the fall is something you can never really replace. But I golf a lot, I play in a lot of amateur tournaments. That’s as close as I can get, even though it’s not even close to a Sunday afternoon at Mile High Stadium. And the business world is competitive. I have to go out and compete and be the best in that also.
SIKIDS.com: What’s a typical Sunday for you during football season now?
Elway: Well, if the Broncos are home I’ll go to the Broncos game. Depending on the weather, I’m still a golfer so Sunday afternoon. If the Broncos are on the road I’ll DVR the game and play some golf. But Sunday night and Monday night are always football in front of the tube. I still really enjoy watching and keeping close to the game.
SIKIDS.com: Of the current players, is there anyone in particular you like to watch?
Elway: I like looking at everybody’s different styles and all the different offenses. Not so much [a specific player’s] game but the different things they’re doing offensively these days, as well as defensively. The game is always evolving, and I’ve been out of the game for 10 years now. [I like] to see the difference between what they’re doing now compared to when I played. There are a lot of guys running the West Coast offense. Aaron Rodgers has been great. And I hope that Houston has a great year this year. [Texans head coach] Gary Kubiak was a roommate of mine for nine years with the Broncos. So right behind the Broncos, I root for the Houston Texans.
SIKIDS.com: What are your impressions of the new guy in Denver: Tim Tebow?
Elway: I had a chance to spend a little bit of time with him, though I haven’t had the chance to see him play a lot during the preseason. He’s a guy who has a great track record as far as winning football games. When [Broncos head coach] Josh McDaniels moved up to get him in the first round, that’s what he was expecting to get, that winning attitude and those intangibles. He’s going to make some things happen, and there’s a lot of excitement in Denver with Tim being the kind of person he is. And he’s also got a chance to sit back and watch a little bit. Kyle Orton’s had a great preseason and he’s going to be the starter, so it gives Tim a chance to kind of get acclimated to the NFL. And I’m sure Josh will use him in certain situations and get Tim some reps and get him some experience. I’m excited for Tim. I’m glad he’s in Denver and I’m looking forward to watching him.
SIKIDS.com: And going back a little bit further in your career: There’s a lot of excitement around Stanford University football. Have you had a chance to see their star quarterback, Andrew Luck?
Elway: I got a chance to see him play a couple of games last year, and he looked tremendous. He’s a young kid with, obviously, great talent. And he has the bloodlines, with his dad playing the same position. He’s going to be exciting to watch, and everybody’s getting excited about Stanford. [Head coach] Jim Harbaugh is doing a heck of a job there. Andrew has some players around him who will put them in position for that Pac-10 championship. So there are a lot of good things going on there thanks to Jim Harbaugh.
SIKIDS.com: Can you give us a Super Bowl pick for this season?
Elway: Well, I’m going to go with Baltimore. I think they’re the most well-rounded team. They can run the ball and I think [Joe] Flacco, with another year in the NFL, he’ll be a better player this year. Anquan Boldin is going to help him, and Ray Rice obviously had a great year last year. And with Ray Lewis leading that defense, I’m going with Baltimore. In the NFC, I’m going to stick with New Orleans. I think they still have a lot of [hunger] to get back to the Super Bowl, especially with everything that just happened down in New Orleans. They’re having a good preseason and it looks like they’re ready to go. But I think they’re going to go lose to the Ravens.