A reliable starter of 24 games in his career, quarterback Danny Kanell has proven his worth in the backup slot for the Denver Broncos as he enters his third season with the team.
Kanell began his career as a New York Giant when he was selected in the fourth round (130th overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft. He led the Giants to the NFC East title in 1997.
Kanell was also with the Atlanta Falcons (1999-2000) and played for the Arena Football League's New York Dragons in 2002. He was selected twice in the Major League Baseball amateur draft, once in 1992 by Milwaukee and in 1995 by the New York Yankees. While away from football in 2001, Kanell played professional baseball for the Newark Bears.
During his career at Florida State University, he threw 57 touchdown passes, breaking the all-time school record of 52 set by Gary Huff. He finished his career ranked second in school history with 6, 176 yards of total offense and 6, 372 passing yards.
Kanell joined the Denver Broncos as a free agent on June 3, 2003.
On May 21, 2005, in the middle of an eight-day quarterback camp, Kanell joined Jake Plummer, Bradlee Van Pelt, Nate Jackson, John Lynch, Charlie Adams, Louis Green, Kyle Johnson, Chukie Nwokorie, Mike Leach, Josh Sewell and Tyler Fredrickson on a trip to Ft. Carson to visit the 1st Battalion Team, 4th Infantry Division in observing Armed Forces Day.
Though he did not take a snap during the 2004 season, he stood as the backup to Plummer.
This week, Kanell answered your questions.
Ted; Los Angeles, Calif.
How is it competing against Bradlee Van Pelt and Matt Mauck, both of whom are younger than you and lack any game experience? Do you mentor them at all or is it purely competition?
It’s definitely both because everywhere I’ve ever been, I’ve always had to compete for my job. At the same time, I like to think of myself as a team player and the more help I can give them, the more it’s going to make our unit stronger as a whole as quarterbacks. So I try to help them as much as I can and I think the competition has just made us all better.
Ryan Winter; Colorado Springs, Colo.
What has been your greatest challenge since joining the Broncos?
I think every year, training camp is the biggest challenge because my job has been on the line every year and I’ve had to step up and compete and play well and earn my spot on this team.
Cheyenne; Lake Forest, Calif.
What motivates you these days as a backup QB in comparison to what motivated you back when you were a starter for the Giants, or is there no change in how you prepare?
There’s really not any difference because I spend a lot of time with Jake (Plummer) and I pretty much prepare the same way he does. I get here early. I stay late. Mentally, I put myself through what he’s going through. I take a lot of pride in being ready to play in case something does happen and that requires preparing to start every week.
Tom Purnell; Pueblo, Colo.
Do you see yourself moving from the field to the sidelines as a coach in the Broncos’ organization if the opportunity presents itself?
I don’t know. Right now I’m trying to play as many years as I can and I feel I still have some good years left in me. But I’ve always been intrigued with the thinking aspect and how it’s like a chess match, how as a quarterback you have to be a real student of the game. It would definitely be a smooth transition for me because I do love studying the game and studying the offense.
Jack Chapman; Bedford, United Kingdom
What has been the happiest moment of your life outside of football/baseball?
I would say, number one, was when I got saved. My faith is very important to me and when I became a Christian when I was nine years old was probably the biggest moment. My second biggest was getting married this offseason.
Brian; Gilbert, Ariz.
Can you tell us about the greatest game you ever played in?
I think the one that everyone kind of remembers me for is at Florida State. We were playing our rival, the (Florida) Gators, and we were down 31-3 in the fourth quarter and we scored four touchdowns in about 12 minutes to come back and tie the game. That’s the one everyone seems to remember me by.
Blake Simon; Altoona, Pa.
Quarterbacks in Denver are always in John Elway\'s shadow. Do you feel the same pressure even though you are not No. 1 on the depth chart?
No, I think Jake and Brian Griese are probably the guys who really felt that the most because they’ve taken over the role as “the” quarterback for the Denver Broncos and if something would happen and I had to step in, then I would feel it. But right now I’m just trying to play my role on the team and my role isn’t to try to compete with John Elway.
Leila; Las Vegas, Nev.
Why in the world would you dye your hair blonde?
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it! My wife was joking around one day and she said she saw a picture of Brad Pitt and thought I’d look hot. So I just thought, “Why not?” Training camp makes you do crazy things and to keep guys loose and come in and just do it for a little while, it’s something fun to do. That’s pretty much the real reason why I did it. The guys wanted to know if I lost a bet or if somebody held me down to do it, but it was just a fun thing. It’s only hair and it grows back, right?
Joshua Butzen; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.
How does the athleticism and successes of playing various sports professionally over the years benefit your on-field performance today for the Denver Broncos?
When I talk to kids and they say they’re focused on one sport and they’re 8 years old, I’m like, why not do it all? All the skills you learn from baseball and from basketball, from any sport you play, are going to come in to help you with whatever you decide to take on. When I’m in a football game, there are things I rely on that were from basketball and baseball. It just makes me a more well-rounded football player because I did play other sports.
Roland Cohagan; Aliso Viejo, Calif.
How good a job does Florida State's program prepare its players for the NFL?
I know when I was there, it was one of the key things that made my transition to the NFL a lot easier. They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and our offense was very complicated. A lot of our reads were similar to what we do now and dealing with the pressure of the program really helped me make the transition to playing in New York, where the media is very intense.
Chris Sutphin; Brilliant, Ohio
If you could take one teammate into battle with you, who would you choose?
Probably Tom Nalen or Rod Smith. They’ve come out here every day for 12, 13 years and gone to work. They battle every time, no matter what the situation is. Tommy’s got blood dripping down, his pants are drenched in blood and he just battles every down. With Rod, you know he’s going to make a play. He’ll go across the middle and get banged up and he’s just going to keep battling, too.
Steve Shultz; Overland Park, Kan.
I read that your teammates gave you several nicknames after dying your hair blonde. Which nickname is your favorite?
My favorite was probably what Rod Smith came up with, which is Johnny Quest. I didn’t even know who he was, but then when I saw the cartoon picture of it and he put my picture up next to it, it was pretty funny. And Rod’s a great guy to come up with something that original. I never would have thought of that. I’ve heard Billy Idol, Eminem, Flash Gordon, Brad Pitt. You name it. But I never would have come up with Johnny Quest.
Shawn Conway; Longmont, Colo.
Do you have any regrets not pursuing a career in professional baseball?
I did. I kind of went back to it about three or four years ago, but it was a long time I’d been away from baseball and it was something I’ve always loved doing. But football is my first love and that’s something that now has created a lot of opportunities and been great to me. I love the game.
Michael Garcia; Ventura, Calif.
If or when you get called on to quarterback some ball games, what in particular about this years’ team would excite you or cater to your style of quarterbacking?
I think just the playmakers we have this year, having Ashley Lelie, Rod and now having Jerry Rice out there. With the backs we have come out and Jeb (Putzier) and Stephen Alexander, there’s just a lot of weapons to work with. It’s like getting the opportunity to drive a fine automobile. Once you get that opportunity, you have to make the most of it and have fun with it.
Phil Degreef; Mandan, N.D.
What do you think of the team getting Jerry Rice?
It’s been awesome. Not only is he the greatest receiver of all time, getting to throw to him is a once in a lifetime opportunity as a quarterback. I like him because he’s also a good golfer and we get to have some pretty good matches off the field as well.
Matt; Coos Bay, Ore.
This is will be my second year of playing football. I have trouble with patience. I get antsy and throw to a covered receiver or just get sacked. How do you suggest gaining patience to find the open receiver?
I think the number one key is having confidence in your offensive line, trusting that they’re going to protect you no matter what and the timing will be there. You’re eventually going to get hit, so you might as well just stand in there and get ready to take your licks and look downfield and make a good throw.
Preston Blair; Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.
Has returning to baseball ever crossed your mind, or possibly trying to play both sports?
I went back and played for the Newark Bears in the Independent League and gave it a shot. At this level, they ask too much of you from both sides. You can’t please everybody. It takes too much work.
Larry Lenz; Fort Collins, Colo.
What do you think the Broncos will need in order to make this season a strong season and make it to the playoffs?
I think a solid team effort from both sides of the ball, offense and defense, and especially special teams. That’s an area we’ve needed to improve and we’ve made a lot of acquisitions in the offseason to help us there. I think we’ve got the ability and the talent. It’s just a matter of getting out there and getting it done.
Austin Hoffeditz; Harrogate, Tenn.
I'm just curious about your trip to Ft. Carson and if you got to fire any weapons?
It was awesome. We got to blow up a lot of stuff. It was kind of like playing G.I. Joe as a kid. We got to fire the M1 Abrams tank, some M-18s and some machine guns. But the real treat was getting to talk to the soldiers and getting to honor those guys and tell them “thanks” for what they’ve done overseas and all the work they’re doing.
Michael Schwarz; Boynton Beach, Fla.
How is training for pro baseball different from training for pro football and what was your average day like for each sport?
I’d say they’re very similar in training because you always want to push your body to the limits. As a quarterback, you’re a thrower so it’s similar to being a baseball player. The training aspects are very similar. The days are totally different. Football is definitely more of a 9-to-5 job and you come in here and play once a week. Baseball is just a grind. You’re going everyday. You usually get to the ballpark around one or two in the afternoon and you get out after the game around 11 at night and then you have to go out and do it again the next day. There’s not much practice. There’s a lot of down time. It’s a grind, mentally, just going to work every day.