Prior to the Colorado Avalanche's 8-6 Game 1 barn burner in the Western Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Broncos legend John Elway made a special appearance on TNT's pregame show to field questions from "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky and the rest of the panel.
For a few minutes, Elway discussed his playing career and his time as the Broncos' general manager, including answering Gretzky's question about whether "The Drive" was his favorite moment as a quarterback.
"That was — other than 'The Helicopter' in the Super Bowl, when we got the first down," Elway said. "That was the one single play. But when we were in Cleveland in the 1986 AFC Championship Game, that's kind of what put me on the map. It was in my fourth year, kind of legitimized me and what I could do. But that was the one that put me on the map. But 'The Helicopter' is what got us the ring."
After his playing days, Elway returned to the Broncos as the team's general manager for a decade-long run. But he's not the only Colorado sports great that followed that path; two-time Stanley Cup winner and Hockey Hall of Famer Joe Sakic now leads the Avs as their executive vice president/general manager. As it so happens, early on in Sakic's tenure, he spoke with Elway about making that transition.
"I've got so much respect for Joe, and he's done a tremendous job," Elway said. "When he first started getting in, we had some conversations. And then as he got into and things weren't going very well, he said, 'Why'd you ever get me into this?' But he's come back and done a heck of a job."
With the Avs mere games away from the Stanley Cup Finals, many fans are hopeful they'll see the team make a run, especially for ninth-year forward Nathan MacKinnon, the former first-overall pick who is still working toward a championship.
Elway, who was also a first-overall pick in his sport, said he can relate to MacKinnon's experience.
"No question," Elway said. "I think as an athlete, what you want to do is you want to be a world champion, no matter what sport you're playing. I think in football, that was my goal. We were fortunate to go to three Super Bowls in the '80s, early in my career. Then there was a nine-year drought when we didn't get a chance to go back. But actually my mom didn't want to go back because we lost those first three. So she said, 'Do we really have to go back?' We were fortunate to go back and finally win two. But to me, that's why you play sports, is to be able to hoist that trophy, whatever sport you're playing."
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Madden NFL 23 is coming, and the cover star is no newcomer. EA Sports announced Wednesday morning that the series' namesake, late Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach John Madden, will be on the cover.
Broncos fans will also want to stay tuned on Thursday, as EA Sports will release the game's first trailer at 8 a.m. MT, and it seems likely that we'll get a new, virtual glimpse of Russell Wilson and Co. in action.