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Q&A With: John Elway

Posted Sep 28, 2012

Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway discusses Rod Smith's induction into the Ring of Fame, quarterback Peyton Manning and the rest of the Broncos' roster.


Editor’s Note: This Q&A story ran in the Sept. 23 Gameday program, when the Broncos played the Houston Texans.

How excited are you for Rod that he's getting into the Ring of Fame?

"There's not a guy that's more deserving when you look at where Rod came from and the work that he put in. Being a free agent coming out of Missouri Southern, being able to come in here as a (college) quarterback and then work his way up, his work ethic was second-to-none. To see him play for 14 years, and a good man, he turned out to be a great leader."

What was he like as a teammate?

"I got him early in his career, but I saw him grow as time went on. He continued to take a leadership role, and he's a guy that still does it. He's still around all the time, which is great for our young guys to see a guy like Rod that meant so much to the Broncos. He walked the walk, not just the talk. I think that's the thing that I enjoy the most about Rod, because of his ability and his work ethic that got him to where he was."

What does he provide to the team when he comes to practice and games?

"Just his presence. He has a way to talk to these young guys. He's a great influence when he's around. I'm glad he's around. Jake (Plummer)'s around, we've got more guys coming around, and I think it's great for the Broncos. Especially for these young guys to see the great ones that have played for the Denver Broncos, to see them around and be able to have them answer questions that they may have and give some advice here and there."

Do you enjoy seeing so many alumni reconnecting with the Broncos?

"It really is. It's so important that the history is part of this franchise, because it's been such a great franchise for the 53 years it's been in existence. In the 29 years that (Owner and CEO) Pat (Bowlen) has owned it, he's had so many great players. For us not to take advantage of the history and use those guys that have been here, and also have them come back and enjoy being around (would be a mistake). As a player, you enjoy being around, but then when your career is over, you get a little separation anxiety there. So it's nice to have all the alumni guys back."

Do you think there should be discussion for Rod to make the Hall of Fame?

"I would hope so, because of the career that he had, the type of guy he is, I hope this is a stepping stone to Canton. He's one of those guys when you put his numbers up and look at the type of player he was and also the contributions he's made to this community and the organization as a leader, you compare those with any of these other wideouts going into the Hall of Fame and he deserves to be right with them."

The entire 2012 draft class made the roster -- what does that say about the thoroughness of the front office's process?

"I think that credit goes to the personnel department – (Director of Player Perosnnel) Matt Russell and the whole scouting staff with (Assistant Director of College Scouting) Lenny McGill and (National Scout) Adam Peters as well as all the scouts. That thoroughness they've gone through and the grading process that they've gone through gives us great ability to make sure that we're focused on the right guys. The background checks and the extensiveness they go through with different players, the credit really goes to them. It shows in the draft. To be able to find those guys that not only are good football players but will fit in the community and have a chance to get better -- there's a knack to that. We're blessed with good scouts, and the personnel department has been tremendous."

Combining free-agent additions to the draft class, are you proud of the roster front office put together?

"I'm excited for the fact that we're better than we were last year. That's what we always want to look at. We're better when you look at the depth that we have, you look at our front-line starters, we think we're more talented there with some depth behind it. Obviously anytime you get a guy like (quarterback) Peyton Manning, it's going to make everybody better. But (Director of Pro Personnel) Keith Kidd, (Assistant Director of Pro Personnel) Champ Kelly and (Pro Scout) Dave Ziegler on the pro side did a tremendous job. We were able to bring a good combination of both free agents as well as young guys. Obviously we want to continue to build through the draft, but we can add certain components through free agency, which we were able to do this year."

As a former quarterback, were you anxious for Manning leading up to his first game back after missing the 2011 season?

"I was. I was never in the situation he was in the fact that I missed a year. I kind of felt some of his anxiety of what it was going to be like coming back, because I'm sure he had questions. Not as many questions as a lot of people had -- I didn't have a lot of questions. I thought he'd come out and be the same old Peyton. Fortunately I was right. But I'm sure there was some anxiety on Peyton's side, because it's hard enough when you play year-in and year-out. When you miss a year, to get caught back up, especially at home on Sunday night with the whole nation watching and a good Pittsburgh Steelers team -- the outcome couldn't have been better for us."

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