We finally come down to it: the time of the year when all National Football League teams have to pare down their rosters.
There is always a measure of excitement involved among media and fans regarding who stays and who goes. But my opinion is that excitement is akin to driving past an accident on the freeway and stopping for a ghoulish closer look. People take a look not to render aide but to see how bad the damage is. Then they drive on.
But the role that John Elway and Gary Kubiak have, along with their counterparts on all other teams, does not allow them to just drive by.
Teams embrace their players. They scout them, sign them, take them into their weight rooms, meeting rooms and practice fields, and make them family as much as possible. We have often talked about the fact that talent comes from everywhere, in all kinds of packages. You just never know.
So after a team has fully embraced a player and created this opportunity, it is tough to say goodbye. The coaches and personnel people are the ones who put the team together, so sharing the emotion of saying goodbye is often the last thing the organization can do.
One hopes that everyone moves on to another team, another job, but reality and roster math tells us that cannot often be so.
So this is a tough week, and coaches are not kidding when they express their feelings about the process.
The best thing anyone can hope for is a long run that ends on one's own terms. Next to that is a long run that does not exactly end as the player desired.
But this is the week when a lot of young guys get called back from the starting line, and many careers end before the run begins. We all know the stats. It is hard to make a pro football team.
Part of the process is the misery of having to make tough roster decisions, decisions that require people to move out, move away, and move on, sometimes into another line of work entirely.
But before the growth into a champion, a team has to endure the difficulty of this week. And in the NFL, it all happens in view of the public.