A Relentless Life


By Jason Cole

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The unauthorized biography of John Elway, Hall of Fame Quarterback, two-time Super Bowl Champion, now President of Football Operations and General Manager of the Denver Broncos.

John Elway's historic moments are known by two-word phrases. He was at the center of the wildest play in college football history, simply known as "The Play." Before he signed a pro contract, there was "The Trade." His NFL career included "The Drive" and "The Fumble," and, of course, "The Helicopter," one of the most iconic highlights in Super Bowl lore. There are so many memorable comeback victories and heroic plays that people have to make lists rather than consider Elway in the context of any singular event.

Yet Elway's story is filled with one challenge after another. At Stanford, he never played in a Bowl game. He was ripped for being petulant after refusing to sign with the Baltimore Colts when he was drafted No. 1 overall, and later for his failure to get along with coach Dan Reeves. Over the first 10 years of his career, Elway led Denver to three Super Bowls, but lost in progressively worse fashion each time. Finally, after fifteen years of perseverance, Elway led the Broncos to back-to-back championships, including the biggest upset in Super Bowl history. Elway won the MVP award in his final Super Bowl and then walked away from the game.

Within four years, Elway's father and twin sister both died, and he went through a difficult divorce. Reeling in his post-retirement, he returned to football . . . at the bottom, running the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League. He waited more than a decade to return to his beloved Broncos. While many people doubted him initially, Elway navigated the Broncos through massive changes and to victory in Super Bowl 50, making Elway the rare Hall of Famer to win a title both on and off the field. Elway has put his passion for competition on display in a way that only a handful of other NFL greats have ever done, and Elway is the most complete look at one of the most accomplished legends in the history of American sports.


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The Pythagorean theorem and two and a half Chucks.

The equation for measuring the hypotenuse of a right triangle has something in common with the use of a five-foot Hawaiian man as a rudimentary measuring stick.

John Elway was a hell of an inspiration for my buddies and me.

The only notable time I’ve used the Pythagorean theorem is still vivid in my mind, an electric moment when you see something so ridiculous that it sticks for eternity. Using Chuck Narikiyo to measure a height was joyously comical. Both are touchstones of my youth. Let’s start with theorem. On the afternoon of November 22, 1980, I was sitting in the corner of one of the end zones among my fellow Stanford University freshmen at Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. Stanford was in the process of losing to archrival Cal in a steady, cold drizzle, making for a pitifully miserable day.

Then it happened: Elway did what only a transcendent athlete can do.

And he did it on an incomplete pass. It was the most breathtaking, astounding, and monumental incomplete pass I’ve ever seen, one that defied what humans are supposed to be capable of. On a broken play from the opposite end of the field, Elway ran to his right. He eventually made it within about a yard of the sideline as he looked for an open receiver. Eventually, a receiver got behind the Cal defense on the left sideline. Elway uncoiled his pigeon-toed body, uncorking a throw from approximately his own twenty-yard line.

The receiver ran downfield on the soggy turf, but the ball cut through the moist air as if it were a javelin. The pass sailed over the receiver’s head and landed out of bounds at the ten-yard line. Elway had just thrown a ball on an angle across the fifty-three-yard-wide field and sailed it seventy yards in vertical distance down the gridiron. For those who understand even rudimentary geometry, that’s way more than seventy yards, which by itself would have been amazing in a live-game situation.

From my angle in the corner of the end zone, I could see the right triangle laid out by Elway’s play. I had the theorem still fresh in my head from high school geometry. One side of the triangle was roughly fifty-three yards (the width of the field). The other was seventy yards (the vertical length of the field). If I wanted to figure out Elway’s throw (the hypotenuse of this triangle, as it were), all I had to do was add fifty-three squared with seventy squared and then figure out the square root of the resulting sum.

Or, as Pythagoras laid it out himself more than 2,500 years ago, A-squared plus B-squared equals C-squared (yeah, it’s pretty easy to remember). It came out to eighty-eight. Elway had just launched a throw eighty-eight yards. I may not have been a great athlete, but I could throw a football. Maybe sixty-five yards. With a good crow hop. On a perfect day. With no one around me to disturb the process, and maybe with a little tail wind. What I just witnessed from Elway stunned me, even if it drew only a few “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. Incomplete passes don’t wow the masses. But eighty-eight yards? On a wet field? In the rain? With no running start?

I was watching someone who could change the game with his talent. Between his arm and his scrambling ability, Elway redefined the Xs and Os of the game. There are only a handful of athletes at any time who can do that in a given sport. Back then, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were doing it in the National Basketball Association and Michael Jordan was a few years away. Wayne Gretzky was changing hockey, Martina Navratilova was altering women’s tennis, and Lawrence Taylor was redefining what was possible on defense in the National Football League.

Athletes like that change the parameters of sports. With Elway, what you would never imagine in drawing up a play was now completely in the realm of thought. Playbooks could be expanded. The absurd was possible. Conversely, what defensive coaches and players might normally scoff at was now something they had to fear when Elway was under center. Not that they took it on faith. They had to experience it for themselves. Over the rest of Elway’s college career and sixteen years in the NFL, defenders facing him for the first time would regularly stop running at a certain point when the receiver ran deep, figuring there was no way he could throw it that far. He’d then make even the best of them look foolish, as Ronnie Lott will explain later.

In the history of the NFL, there have been quarterbacks who have outperformed Elway from a statistical standpoint. Whether it was Dan Marino, Brett Favre, or Peyton Manning, many have compiled great stats, usually aided by better systems and better surrounding talent. Some quarterbacks have won more than Elway, most famously Tom Brady and Joe Montana. And other passers have even had some of Elway’s physical ability. Jeff George, JaMarcus Russell, and Drew Henson are among a host with cannon arms. Michael Vick and Steve Young were great scramblers. Cam Newton has the size (relative to his opponents). Bob Griese, Drew Brees, and Troy Aikman were among many who had the intelligence and will.

No one has ever possessed the collection of skills to the degree of Elway.

And now, no other quarterback has ever chased greatness for as long as Elway. Where others have rested on their laurels, he has remained resolute in his chase. These days, Elway is perched high above the fields he once roamed, surveying the game as Denver’s president of football operations and general manager.

Because, in addition to his raw skill, Elway possesses passion and an undying love of competition and willingness to chase it, even in the low levels of the game. Few people realize Elway spent his own money in the Arena Football League to get his start in management.

Years later, he put his legacy on the line.

Of course, none of us, Elway included, could know what was to come on that November day in 1980. All I knew as an eighteen-year-old is that I was witness to someone who was startling in his measurable, physical greatness. I felt as if I was watching Zeus toss thunderbolts from his hand. Little did I know I was watching the opening act of a Greek tragedy that would last nearly two decades.

The story of Elway is not about talent easily realized. It is about talent being tested to the point of torture, both on and off the field. He was like Prometheus, who gave fire to humans and then was punished by the gods. Elway was tied to the rocks and made to suffer season after season. This story is about a man so gifted he could have sacrificed working at his craft and still been great; yet he never did, even in the face of epic failure. After Elway finished his career by leading the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl championships, he wanted to keep going. Elway is the definition of ceaseless desire.

This story is also about inspiration on a personal level. Elway didn’t just enable his coaches to change the parameters of what was possible on the field and help his teammates achieve greatness, he also pushed fans to search their own imaginations. Great artists do that, whether it was Elway on the field, Hendrix with a guitar, or Monet with a canvas and brush. For my friends and me, Elway was our muse. After leaving Big Game that day in 1980, we plotted to steal The Axe (the symbol of the Stanford-Cal rivalry) from Cal. We never did, but we had a plan. It was just too hard to safely acquire and transport that much liquid nitrogen.

In 1981, we executed our first good pre–Big Game prank. Along the northbound side of Highway 280 near San Mateo is a statue of Father Junípero Serra, the priest who wandered the west converting Native Americans to Catholicism. The statue features Serra on one knee with his finger pointing westward. To a bunch of sports-minded college kids, Serra looks like he’s a holder for field goals. My buddies and I decided to build a “football” in the form of a collapsible Chinese lantern and paint it red and white with a giant S on the side. The laces read the time-honored phrase “Beat Cal.”

There was just one thing we needed to know to get started. What was the height from the ground to the tip of Serra’s pointing finger? Being teenage men, we failed to bring a tape measure for our reconnaissance mission. Enter Narikiyo, one of our band of brothers in collective silliness. At five feet tall, he was a walking measuring stick. He stood under the statue and the distance from ground to tip was approximately two and a half Chucks, or twelve and a half feet.

That stunt is also forever embedded in my mind.

Our infatuation with all things Elway turned more serious as time went on. One night, Chuck commanded me to come with him to the Economics Department to help him get his blue books from an exam (do blue books even exist anymore?). Why, I asked, did I have to come along for such a mundane task? “Just do it,” Narikiyo said in an unusually serious tone. Upon arrival, he then told me to stand guard at the door. Wait a second. Stand guard? What the hell was going on?

“Elway is in my class; I’m stealing his blue books to get his signature,” Narikiyo said. I stood sentry without another word spoken. I admit this years later realizing an honor code violation could still be in the offing.

In 1982, we went bigger and bolder. We pulled back-to-back all-nighters to see Elway play at Arizona State University in a thriller that ended as a bummer. We then drove back bleary-eyed and disappointed after the game, too cheap to pay for an extra day on the rental cars. For Big Game that year, we buried a sprinkler system around the C on the side of Cal’s famed Tightwad Hill. The system was built with a timer set to go off at noon on game day and spray red paint on the gold letter. It was beautiful to witness the C go from gold to red in a matter of seconds. That same day, we nearly pulled off our greatest prank by hanging a 120-foot “Go Stanford” banner from the arms of the clock on Cal’s Sather Tower.

Sadly, the rope snapped, and the banner floated to the ground. Fortunately, the Cal cops took pity on us. Later that day, our chagrin was overcome by the anguish of witnessing Cal return the final kickoff through the Stanford Band for a game-winning touchdown.

Yeah, that game.

That play not only marked the end of Elway’s college career and overshadowed a phenomenal comeback he had led, but it also marked the end of our antics. Though Stanford was never great with Elway, there were some awesome moments, such as beating Oklahoma and smug coach Barry Switzer on their home turf in 1980. In Elway’s senior year, Stanford played five teams ranked in the top fifteen, including number two: Washington. Stanford won two of those games (against Washington and Ohio State University) and lost two by four points or fewer (Arizona State and the University of California at Los Angeles).

The roller coaster of Elway’s 1982 senior season gave way to the disgust of a 1–10 record in the 1983 season without him. The season was worse than the record looks in type, if that’s possible. The energy, interest, and intrigue of watching a singular talent like Elway was gone, and so was any inspiration for our imagination. Instead, my friends and I watched Elway from afar, reveling in his great comebacks and bemoaning the lack of talent the Denver Broncos put around him for most of his career. His first three Super Bowl appearances were a series of double-edged swords. He basically took the Broncos to those games on the strength of his heroics before the inadequacy of the team showed up. The Super Bowl losses gave ammunition to critics who claimed Elway was overrated.

Overrated? Are you freaking kidding me? It didn’t matter how any of us argued the case for Elway’s greatness; the truth is that quarterbacks are judged by Super Bowl victories. That meant the critics won the early rounds. Terry Bradshaw became a television star at Elway’s expense. Bradshaw was able to hide his jealousy of Elway behind his folksy, country accent as the audience conflated conniving with wisdom.

Even when Elway walked away after back-to-back Super Bowl wins, there were claims he was carried there by the performance of running back Terrell Davis. Elway’s fierce competitiveness was discounted. When he returned to the game a few years later in the Arena League, few understood how seriously he took the league because they weren’t really paying attention.

Again, there was no resting on career achievement. He wasn’t satisfied to play golf, sign autographs, and live off simply being John Elway. The man of great talent and accomplishment had morphed into a man driven to compete at the next level of life. That, above all else, is the true genius of Elway. The man who once threw a ball in a way that defied conventional physical boundaries wasn’t satisfied with the gifts he had been born with.

He was consumed by reaching a higher level, a level of achievement that can’t be measured by any theorem. Or even with the help of a five-foot Chuck.

Sweep the Garage

Elway studied his reflection in the mirror.

This was a Monday night in early December, the time when the pressure of an NFL season starts to rise, separating the hopeful from the hopeless. On a typically chilly night in Denver, Elway was preparing to get back in the game, enjoying a home field advantage.

As he got dressed, he was more anxious than usual. The numerous fourth-quarter comebacks of his storied career always amped his intensity. Teammates would notice his pupils dilate, making it look as if his eyes were bulging. He would also talk faster and more intently, forcing teammates to focus on every word.

But this wasn’t a game in the literal sense. On Monday, December 6, 2010, the fifty-year-old Elway—nearly twelve years removed from his career as a player—had a dinner meeting with Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. At Elway’s restaurant in the upscale Cherry Creek section of Denver, the two men planned to discuss his return to the NFL as an executive with the Broncos.

To anyone with common sense and any understanding of the back story, there wasn’t much to discuss. Bowlen coming to Elway’s home turf was a sure sign that finalizing this deal was just a matter of details. Earlier that day, Bowlen had fired Broncos coach Josh McDaniels after fewer than two full seasons. McDaniels had earned his early dismissal by both losing games and mismanaging the team. That started with trading the perceived franchise quarterback, Jay Cutler, and ended with a cheating scandal. Along the way, McDaniels had done just about everything he could to alienate the fans and media.

The Broncos weren’t just among the hopeless; they were humiliated.

To fix that problem, Bowlen turned to a man who was the face of Denver’s greatest success and whom Bowlen had grown to love and admire over their twenty-five-year relationship. Bowlen and Elway couldn’t have been much closer, and the frequent high-fives they exchanged during dinner were proof Elway’s return was simply a matter of dotted i’s, not about whether they saw eye to eye.

Yet as much as Elway was in a power position as he prepared for that meeting, he was still a bundle of excitement. He looked at his wife, Paige, and, in the tone of a teenage boy getting ready for a date with the head cheerleader, asked her, “How do I look?” It was a humorous juxtaposition that wasn’t lost on Paige. She could hear the anxiety, happiness, and even a little vulnerability in his voice.

For those who love Hallmark movie narratives, Elway’s return was the obvious move for Bowlen. When in doubt, call upon the resident hero to save the day. Elway wasn’t just the greatest player in Broncos history and a first-ballot Hall of Famer, he was quite possibly the most famous and trusted man in the state of Colorado.

Forget about Adolph Coors or Zebulon Pike—Elway had taken the Broncos and the team’s fans to greater heights than anyone could imagine. His daring comebacks were the stuff of legend. His five Super Bowl appearances were a then-record for quarterbacks. The back-to-back titles to finish his career allowed him to walk away after bringing the first major sports championships to the state. With his hiccupped gait, he ambled from the game as if he were John Wayne heading into the sunset after shooting every bad guy.

And now, thirteen years after Elway’s retirement as a player, it was time for his return as an executive. The Broncos had been competitive for most of that time under previous coach Mike Shanahan, but never returned to championship greatness. The team cascaded into infamy under McDaniels. Again, that was the easy way to spin the narrative. And again, with that understanding, Elway should have been the picture of confidence. He was the guy with all the leverage, and this wasn’t his first dinner with Bowlen. The men had known each other since 1984, when Bowlen bought the team in Elway’s second season. The two had broken bread and tossed back more than a few drinks over the years.

So, why the anxiety? Why be so amped that Paige—a woman who was known to operate in her own time zone—made sure she was ready to go at the appointed hour?

The answer was a rhetorical question.

How many times do you get a chance for a second act in life?

This moment was something far deeper than anyone could have imagined for Elway. This dinner, this meeting, and this chance to work in the NFL was what Elway had wanted, practically from the moment he retired. The honeymoon period of Elway’s retirement didn’t last long.

Getting back in the NFL was something he had spent most of the past decade preparing for, working quietly in the lower echelons of pro sports to prove himself to Bowlen. As he told friends on several occasions over that decade, “My goal in life has always been I wanted to be more than just a football player.” He wanted to run a team and compete again at the highest level.

Yet the question of “why?” lingered.

Elway had already done more than most of the men who also happen to wear Super Bowl rings. He had stared down Darryl Strawberry in high school baseball, dipped his toe in the pond of minor league baseball with the New York Yankees under owner George Steinbrenner, and snubbed his nose at the owner of the Baltimore Colts after being drafted number one overall. He had become a scratch golfer, a relentless ping pong player, and a card player who reveled in taking thousands of dollars from his friends in gin.

He had started and sold a car business for tens of millions. He had guided the Colorado Crush from expansion team in the Arena Football League to champion by the team’s third season. He combined his fame and his degree in economics to make more money away from the field than on it. Yet there he was, anxiously staring at a mirror on that December night as he got ready for dinner with a man he had known for a quarter century, wondering whether he looked OK.

This was about that burning place in Elway’s soul where he couldn’t let go of the chase. He couldn’t be satisfied. He couldn’t just sit back like some general at the top of the hill, watching the soldiers fight, and then march down to bayonet the wounded.

Elway wanted to be in the thick of it. He wanted to go to charming places like Mobile, Alabama, in late January to watch college football players practice for the Senior Bowl. He longed for trips to Indianapolis in February for the NFL’s annual scouting combine. He wanted to sit in an office, fidgeting with the controls on a video player as he watched a series of college players move around the field, trying to decipher which was the most able and, more importantly, the most willing. He wanted the challenge of signing free agents and the rush of picking players against the rest of the league during the NFL Draft.

Of course, plenty of people wondered about Elway’s resolve before he ultimately accepted the job Bowlen laid out for him that night over dinner. Influential blogger Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com presented the naysayer’s case two days after news broke of the Bowlen-Elway dinner. Denver Post columnist Woody Paige had written a column about the meeting and took extra effort to praise Elway’s abilities and preparation.

Florio took issue with that line of thought.

“Paige floats several possible titles for the long-time Broncos quarterback—V.P. of football operations, General Manager, executive V.P. Each implies a level of influence and responsibility that the candidate wouldn’t merit if his name didn’t rhyme with Smellway,” Florio wrote.

Paige also pumps up Elway’s credentials, explaining that he was a “hands-on owner” of the Colorado Crush of the [Arena Football League], and that Elway “sat for hours” with his late father, Jack, as he did the things a scout does. In our view, however, dabbling in scouting is no replacement for the grinding that scouts do as they acquire knowledge of the nuances that will allow them to make tough decisions once the scout climbs into a position of authority. And that remains our biggest concern. If Elway were suited to serve as an executive with an NFL team, he’d already be one. That’s how the industry works. Though the job is less visible than the position of head coach, what Elway hopes to do is no less significant, and the situation should be viewed by Broncos fans as no less alarming.

So this looks to be another case of a star athlete wanting to make a difference with his old team, mistakenly thinking that an ability to throw the football unlike anyone else the organization has employed translates into an ability to run the franchise. It doesn’t. And unless Elway has a hidden talent for scouting or untapped high-level business abilities otherwise honed by hard-working men and women during the years that Elway was playing football, it’s not going to work.

Other people, including some of Elway’s friends and other close associates, wondered why he would take on such a huge challenge. It wasn’t just the workload. They wondered why someone who had taken the Broncos to their greatest heights would take a chance on failing.

“This was the low point for the franchise,” Denver chief executive officer and president Joe Ellis said.

We were losing and now we had a scandal. Our image with our fans and around the country was bad. I had been talking to John and, frankly, this was a decision we probably should have made a couple of years before. That’s my fault. I didn’t see that John really wanted to help. I didn’t see that he wanted to throw himself into this the way he has.

I just kept thinking: “John has this great life being retired and doing what he wants. Why would he want to do this?” Even though he was telling me he wanted to do the job, I didn’t see it. But when Mr. Bowlen made the decision to let go of Josh, we had to do something to reestablish trust in the organization. We had to let our fans know that we were really going to get this fixed. John did that for us.

Elway did that despite having a legacy to protect. Though he returned to the game with a certain cache of respect, it meant little in the ultra-competitive world of the NFL. The only thing respect gets you is a smile and handshake before your opponent tries to beat the crap out of you.

But what Florio and other detractors, even some of Elway’s friends, didn’t understand was how Elway had been raised to compete. They didn’t know how his passion had been nurtured. Most assuredly, they didn’t understand how he had been humbled from the time he was a teenager, so his great sense of confidence never became a bloated and satisfied ego.

Those people didn’t know Jack.

Jack Elway, that is, John’s beloved father and best friend. Jack was many things, from a football lifer, to a raconteur, to a man of ceaseless comedic wit. More than anything, Jack was a devoted father who had a simple yet critical plan for how he wanted to raise his son. In 1983, as John was getting ready to be the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft, Jack explained the goal of his plan to Sports Illustrated.

“I just want him to be excited and dollars won’t decide that,” Jack said. “You can’t be great playing on a dollar basis. You’ve got to have your heart and soul in it.…I’d feel real successful if I could just preserve for John the joy of playing ball. Because that’s where he’ll find his greatness.”

At age fifty on that December night, John Elway’s heart and soul were still chasing joy. He might not have been playing ball anymore, but he was still searching for his greatness in whatever he tried. Elway didn’t just want this job. He needed this job. He wasn’t doing it for the money or the fame. It certainly wasn’t just some nice public relations move to get the fans and media off Bowlen’s back. This was about the essence of what made Elway who he is. It was about the sacred moments of youth that become emotional touchstones of adulthood.

It was about pajamas and slippers. It was about sweeping the garage.

The most common misconception about Elway is the assumption that his competitiveness emanated from his physical talent. It’s an easy mistake. To anyone who has studied quarterbacks, Elway still stands as the prototype. Decades removed from when he came out of college, his combination of arm strength, scrambling ability, size, and intelligence still rate at the highest ends of the scale. Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian has referred to Elway as the “statue of David” among quarterbacks. Michelangelo’s marble representation of David in his youthful state of courage and strength as he prepared to take on Goliath is considered the perfect representation of male human form.


  • "John Elway is one of the most well-documented figures in the 37 years I've covered football, and it's a tribute to Jason Cole's rich reporting that this book is filled with stuff I never knew. Elway the pitcher versus Strawberry the slugger in the Los Angeles high school baseball championship ... Living in a Belushi-like Animal House at Stanford ... How barely remembered Denver owner Edgar Kaiser made the Elway trade ... Riveting details of Elway's spats with Dan Reeves ... And as Broncos GM years later, wisely slow-playing his pursuit of Peyton Manning. This, then, is a particularly valuable story of the life and times of a great player, in and out of football. Jason Cole delivers the goods the way Elway delivered the ball."
    Peter King, NBC Sports
  • "The reporting and background in this book are outstanding."—Sports Illustrated
  • "For a man that has completely dominated headlines in Colorado, this is the most complete book about the legend. Jason Cole goes deep with Elway: A Relentless Life, and he delivers on the man who delivered so much for Colorado."—Adam Schefter, author of The Man I Never Met
  • "For a man who possesses more natural talent than any quarterback in history, John Elway never had it particularly easy on his path to the top of his profession, nor did he seek any shortcuts. Fueled by a relentlessly competitive nature and a gritty, understated toughness, Elway fought through a series of institutional and interpersonal obstacles to reach his goals, and he wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Jason Cole was fortunate enough to witness Elway's excellence at an early age, and he kept filling up notebooks while chronicling the quarterback's peaks and valleys for the next several decades. Like his subject, Cole is unafraid to go all-in and unbending in his pursuit of success. The result is a comprehensive, uncompromising and thoroughly compelling breakdown of a living legend who continues to chase greatness, every single day."—Mike Silver, NFL Network
  • "The exhaustive and excellent tome by Jason Cole about the life and times of 60-year-old John Elway."—NBC Sports
  • "Learned so much about No. 7 in Elway, as Jason Cole connected many dots with his well-researched, deep dive into the remarkable career and life of an icon. It is an enjoyable read, too, well-written with an abundance of details and context. Not only is this a must for any given John Elway fan, but it is a treasure that needed to be documented for the sake of football history."—Jarrett Bell, NFL Columnist, USA Today Sports
  • "John Elway is one of America's most famous and celebrated sports figures, and yet he's always been something of a mystery. Jason Cole peals back the layers, like only someone who has known Elway since their Stanford days can. Wanna know where the power in his right arm came from? How he survived the Dan Reeves years and excelled under Mike Shanahan? Why he still grinds every day running the Denver Broncos, even with multiple Super Bowl rings and a secure legacy in place? This riveting primer on the requirements of greatness answers them all."—Seth Wickersham, ESPN
  • "An in-depth, entertaining biography of one of football's greatest quarterbacks, John Elway.... Cole smoothly takes readers from on-field action to back-office decision-making.... This is a must-read for Elway and Broncos fans."—Publishers Weekly
  • "The author convincingly shows that no other quarterback has combined [Elway's] drive, intelligence, willpower, and athleticism, and none has been so relentless in seeking self-improvement and gridiron glory....Cole is a fluent interpreter of the game of football and its arcana, and he has a considered appreciation for what it is that makes a great leader....Fans of the Broncos-and football in general-will enjoy this portrait of one of the game's greatest players."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Engrossing read, very well-researched."—Ramon Maclin, Medium.com

On Sale
Nov 9, 2021
Page Count
368 pages
Hachette Books

Jason Cole

About the Author

Jason Cole has covered or written about pro football since 1992 and has been a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 2013. He has worked for publications such as Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, The Miami Herald, and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Cole's five-year investigation of Reggie Bush and the University of Southern California resulted in Bush becoming the only player to ever relinquish his Heisman Trophy and USC losing its 2004 national championship.

Cole has co-authored six books, including Giant with Plaxico Burress, Heart for the Game with Simon Keith, and Ocho Cinco with Chad Johnson. Prior to covering the NFL, Cole covered the NBA, Major League Baseball, and high school sports in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among his breaking news stories was uncovering famed impostor James Hogue at both Princeton University and Palo Alto High School. Cole teaches sports writing at the University of Florida and is the father of two Eagle Scouts. He is a graduate of Stanford University, which he attended at the same time as Elway.

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