Thank you for making the most of your opportunity when you were the only quarterback the Broncos selected in the famed 1983 NFL Draft. One of the most underrated positive influences that a starting quarterback can receive is consistent, valuable information from his backup, during games and practices. You provided John Elway with that kind of excellent wisdom for eight straight years, most of which were highly successful for Elway and the Broncos as a whole. Here in Boise, Kellen Moore is highly revered, and I do not hesitate to point out that Moore has Gary Kubiak-like talent in improving the play of the quarterback ahead of him on the depth chart. That’s the highest honor I can bestow upon any backup.
Thank you for going with Mike Shanahan back to Denver in 1995 as a coach, and thank you for helping to finish the job that couldn’t be finished when you were a player: A Super Bowl win, followed immediately with another one, a fitting and proper conclusion for Elway’s Hall of Fame career that you helped build. Thank you for also doing the best you could do for Brian Griese, given the pressure he had at Elway’s heir apparent, and thank you for your excellent work with Jake Plummer, a player built well for your offense and one that was integral in three straight playoff appearances.
Thank you for not just limiting your high football intelligence to just the quarterback position. Thank you for roles in overseeing the rise of the unheralded Terrell Davis—and when he went down to injury, getting the best out of Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns, and Tatum Bell. Thank you for your assistance in making the offensive line a consistent strength in Denver, where players like Tom Nalen don’t nearly get the credit they deserve.
Thank you for being a consistently steady manager of talent on the offensive side of the ball during your first 11 years in Denver as a coach. Coaching is not just about football intelligence, it is also about knowing how to communicate with players as human beings, and to get the most of them out by reaching out and understanding their personalities. This is one area in which you were clearly more skilled than Mike Shanahan, and it is no coincidence that when you left Denver to get the job you fully deserved—head coach in your native Houston—this crucial aspect of coaching became lacking in Shanahan’s final three years in charge in Denver.
Thank you for returning to Denver at a critical crossroads in the franchise history: when the franchise was once again near the top of the NFL without yet fully scaling the Super Bowl mountain. Thank you for heeding the call from one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history that you were highly familiar with—and for working the best with one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history that you were not familiar with. It was clear that Peyton Manning did not check off every box in what you look for at a quarterback, especially when it was evident that he was also rapidly declining. Yet you were willing to work with his strengths, and add some of your own preferences when appropriate.
Thank you for bringing in Wade Phillips, and letting him do what he does best without interference: develop dominant defenses. As a result, the Broncos possessed one of the best defensive units in NFL history, something the Broncos had not seen since at least the Orange Crush days of the 1970s.
Thank you for leading the team on the field to a win in Super Bowl 50, and living up to the extremely high standards that are set by and around the Denver Broncos—not only by its ownership and its management under Elway, but also by its fans, who grow more impatient than other fanbases when the team they cheer for is not in contention. In your 22 years of service for the Broncos, you were a part of 20 non-losing seasons, 14 playoff seasons, seven AFC championships, and three Super Bowl victories. By any reasonable measure, the mile high expectations were met when you were part of the organization.
Above all, thank you for being more than just a great disciple of football, but being a great person. The NFL is a ruthless business where negativity and criticism runs high. Yet I am strained to find anyone who conveyed anything other than positive thoughts about you, and that kind of praise is not earned with any sort of ease. Thank you for making the decision that you feel is best for your wellbeing and for your family. Whatever your future holds, I’m sure it will be a bright one for you and all that are around you.
There should be no debate that the instant you are eligible, you will go into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame on the first ballot.
Thank you, Gary Kubiak.