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Sundays with Sacco: Playoff wins hard to come by

The Denver Broncos are in the playoffs, where every NFL team wants to be at this time of the year.

And not only that, but the Broncos have won the AFC West Division title for the fifth straight season, a team record, and of course have the top seed in the conference for postseason play this year.

But the most accurate comment I have ever heard about the playoffs, and playing at home, came from none other than Peyton Manning at one of his press conferences in his first year here.

"All it means is you have a chance. It is not a guarantee, it is a chance," Peyton said.

Those are the truest words ever spoken.

Every team has a chance, but it not easy to win, and thus should be savored and appreciated at the highest level.

Former tight end and current television commentator Tony Gonzalez is familiar to all football fans for his great 15-year playing career. But I wonder how many stop to realize that in his brilliant career, he was at the winning end of just one playoff game.

I have many friends with NFL teams who have been with their team for more than 20 years and have yet to experience a single playoff win.

There is a big difference between making the playoffs and being successful in them, and that is where the Broncos and our fans have been doubly blessed.

The playoff histories of John Elway and Gary Kubiak have been among the best in pro football.

They are not the game's only wins, but they certainly are at the highest echelon.

As player and general manager, John Elway has been a part of 17 postseason wins, including six trips to the Super Bowl.

Gary Kubiak has been with four organizations, including Denver as both player and coach, along with his stints in San Francisco, Houston and Baltimore. He not only made the playoffs in each of those cities but has been a playoff winner in each, totaling 20 victories as he enters this year's playoffs.

That is a tough statistic to match.

As a for example comparison, NFL founder, owner and coach of the Chicago Bears George Halas experienced a total of seven postseason wins in his time from the start of the NFL until his death in 1983. Papa Bear had his Bears in the playoffs many times, but their win total was seven from 1922 through 1983.

Of course, many of the playoff wins for Elway and Kubiak are the same games, but that strengthens the statistic rather than making it weaker.

A friend of mine from New York once said to me, half kidding but entirely serious, "What is it with John Elway? He plays and Denver does nothing but win. Then he retires and Denver does not win so much. Then he comes back and Denver does nothing but win!"

Far be it from me to be capable of cracking the DNA genetic code that separates NFL players and coaches, but we all know that talent and an unrelenting passion to be the best are major factors in success.

One need look no further than Peyton Manning. Although his Broncos history is shorter by far than that of Elway and Kubiak, arguably no player has ever lived more consumed with a level of hard work and preparation as Manning.

Broncos fans are fortunate to have great winners like these three men.

All you can ever ask is a fighting chance, and with winners at the helm Broncos Country certainly has that.

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