ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For almost every day of an NFL player's career, collective achievement is prized above all. The only moments that are about the individual are the ones taking place right now.
Louis Vasquez had never known what that was like until the last few days, so he turned to two of his former San Diego teammates for advice -- ex-Chargers guard Kris Dielman and quarterback Philip Rivers. Dielman, now retired, had tested free agency in 2007 and received a massive offer from the Seahawks but opted to take $9 million less to stay with San Diego; Rivers signed a contract extension in 2009 with one year left on his rookie deal.
Their message? Don't feel guilty about leaving your team; this is the moment when you have to do what's right for your career.
"They both told me that at the end of the day, I've got to do what's best for me," Vasquez recalled. "They said, 'You don't owe anybody anything. We know you're a loyal guy, but when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, you've got to do what's best for you."
Vasquez didn't join the Broncos sight unseen; two games a year against them, including the annual game in Denver, gave him a brief feel for the team and the area.
"I think my agent (Rob Sheets) said it best: It was the location, the team and as far as the comfort, I didn't really have to do too much thinking," he said.
Negotiations with the Chargers didn't progress the way Vasquez and Sheets had hoped -- "we didn't feel we were on the same page," Vasquez admitted -- and that helped lead him to Denver.
His former position coach, Hal Hunter, now with the Colts, gave him a push.
"He just threw out a couple places that would be a good fit for me. At this point it was a no-brainer," Vasquez said. "It had a great location, great team and a chance to go to the Super Bowl and win it all."
The people involved helped seal the deal, starting with Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway.
"He knows how the game works in and out," Vasquez. "He knows the ins and outs. It makes complete sense why he's so good in the office -- as he was on the field."
But the one who made Vasquez feel at home was Offensive Line Coach Dave Magazu, with whom he felt an instant rapport.
"Coach Magazu, he said he was excited. (Head) Coach (John) Fox actually mentioned something: 'I've never seen (Magazu) smile from ear to ear this long,' and Magazu was talking about having a new toy to play with, fit in and get this thing back on track," Vasquez said.
"Right off the bat, he asked me a few questions, and then he's like, 'All right, now we're going to get to ball.'"
And with that, Vasquez, like so many free agents around the league, once again became all about a team, and not about himself.