ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – When Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway and General Manager Brian Xanders began searching for a head coach to lead the 2011 Broncos, they had a singular objective in mind.
"We needed these guys to enjoy football again," Elway said.
John Fox was the man for that job.
After completing their first season under Fox's lead, several Broncos attested to it.
"He was the right hire," wide receiver Eddie Royal said. "He just came out and was the same guy every day. That meant a lot to us, and that's a guy you want to fight for every game."
And they had fun doing it.
"Probably the most fun I've ever had playing football," kicker Matt Prater said during the Broncos' thrilling six-game win streak.
Fox brought energy and confidence to a team that needed it following a 4-12 campaign. His players respected him and instantly noticed a change in the atmosphere at Dove Valley.
"I think the moment coach Fox stepped foot at the facility, that losing aspect just left the building," linebacker Joe Mays said. "He just said, 'We're going to be a good football team this year. We're going to turn some heads, right some wrongs, and we're going to go out there and show that we can play football with the best of them.'
That's exactly what they did, claiming the AFC West division title and upsetting the defending AFC Champion Steelers in the Wild Card round.
Fox believed in his team's potential despite their dissapointing 2010 season and worked to bring out their collective best.
"The positive vibe that Coach Fox has, he's a personable guy, he's a joking guy, but he'll shoot you straight on the things you need to hear," safety Brian Dawkins said. "He just brought a feel-good to a hurting locker room, to be honest."
"He's probably the best coach I've had," wide receiver Eric Decker said. "He's a veteran guy that's seen a lot of football. Very personal man, which I think is big in this league because a guy who can be a players' coach and demand respect, it's a good combination."
"He understands the difference between being a great football player and being a great all-around player with mental toughness, with being a student of the game and he incorporates all that," Decker added. "I think a lot of guys learn from him and definitely respect him."
The respect and appreciation went both ways.
"I was as proud of them as any team I've ever coached," Fox said.