ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --And now, the climb up the mountain starts all over again.
Yes, memories of a Super Bowl 50 win and the big, fat ring on the finger will forever linger in their hearts and minds. When these championship Broncos are old and gray, they will recall with fondness what they accomplished last season. As the 50th Super Bowl champions, they have a unique place in history.
"I don't think you ever just put 2015 completely behind you, because every day I'm going to go home and I'm going to talk to my ring," said wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. "I'm going to lay next to it, sleep next to it and eat breakfast next to it. It's never gone.
"It's one of those seasons that gives you confidence, that allows you to poke your chest out. I'm going to be 60 years old and say, 'Hey, 2015!' I'm never going to put that behind me. I don't ever want to put it back."
But in the moment, that does nothing to get them back to Super Bowl LI next February in Houston.
And that's what Head Coach Gary Kubiak wanted to convey when he addressed the team Monday morning. His message was simple, as Aqib Talib noted.
"'I hope y'all enjoyed the wave, but it's time to get back to work. The only way to be successful is to put in that same work as before,'" Talib said. "That basically was his message."
That began Monday, but the focus on it actually began not long after the 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers.
"I remember talking to John Elway, when we were getting ready to get on the bus [after the Super Bowl], and I looked at Elway and I said, 'Man, after you won your first one, did you enjoy it?'
"He was like, 'Yeah, but I was thinking about the next one.' And that's how I feel right now."
While the world championship is to be savored, it is time to turn the page to 2016. The Broncos can draw confidence from their persistence through adversity in their title run.
But the road will be rougher.
"It does feel different," Talib said. "You've got the target on your back now. If they didn't bring their best last year, they're definitely going to gives us their best this year. It just means we have to work that much harder knowing that we're going to get everybody's best."
And they can't flip a light switch at any point and be back at a championship level when it counts next fall and winter. Getting to that stratum is a gradual process that takes piece-by-piece, day-by-day work.
That began Monday.
"We're up here, we're working hard, and we're thinking about the next one," Sanders said. "I want to bring another parade to the city of Denver."
It starts with work. It also starts with attitude. And if Talib is right, the chip on the shoulder that fueled the Broncos last year remains in place.
"We still have conversations about our respect level. We still don't feel like it's there," Talib said. "Y'all do all the writing and talking, so there are a lot of questions about our performance.
"We still have got a chip. We're going to make it a period instead of a question mark."
The Broncos got back to work in preparation for the 2016 season with the beginning of the offseason program in the weight room. (All photos by Eric Bakke)