John Elway on NFL Style, Practical Jokes and Colorado’s New Law...
It’s football season. So we thought it might be a good time to talk on the phone with John Elway. The HOF Broncos QB is currently working with Dove Men+Care on their really well-executed Journey to Comfort campaign. And he took a minute to share some thoughts on NFL style, his nonexistent (he swears) Baltimore vendetta and a little law that just passed in Colorado.
In your playing days, did you think about style? I’ve always tried to dress up-to-date. I’m not sure I have the natural instinct for it, but I have a lot of people around me who make me look good. My wife is really on top of style. Plus I’ve got a good friend here in town, Craig Andrisen, at Andrisen Morton, which is a real high-end men’s store.
Nice. That’s a great shop, a great institution. Who was the most stylish guy you played with? A guy named Tony Jones, who was the right tackle. He was, you know, a 310-pound tackle. He wore top hats and colors. It wasn’t quite my style, but he was secure in what he wore.
I guess if you’re a 300-pound lineman, you can wear whatever you want. There you go.
The NBA has a dress code. Do you think the NFL should consider something similar? I think that first impressions leave a big impression. Our team philosophy is when we travel, we travel in coat and tie: not only does it make our players feel like it’s a business trip—because it is, when we go on the road—but also it’s a positive image for how the fans look at the Denver Broncos.
Do you think a lot about the uniforms? Well, we just went to the orange this year. In 1997 we went to the blue, and just this year we went back to the orange at home.
We’ll go on record as pro-orange Broncos uniforms. Have you had a good response? We have, you know. I think that people enjoy getting back to Bronco orange.
Any non-Broncos favorites? I’ve always liked the old baby blue Chargers unis. The Chargers have always been good. When I was growing up, I always liked the Chiefs, even though they haven’t changed a lot.
Any practical jokes you remember from your playing days? [laughs] It’s been a long time. You know, Randy Gradishar was the biggest practical joker that I ever played with and that was back in the ’80s.
Give us the dirt. We always used to have soup on Fridays, so he hid somebody’s car keys in the bottom of the soup. He made a whole helmet full of Jell-O once.
The old Jell-O helmet. Yeah, I can’t remember who, but he had to clean the Jell-O out of the helmet.
Now we turn to the part of the interview where you say some real football executive type stuff about your season. Yeah, I mean, we’re 6 and 3, we’re excited to be there. Peyton’s adapted to the guys, so it’s been a good feeling to see our offense come together like it has. We’ve got seven games left and we take them one at a time. We’re gonna have to play our best football. The first goal is to win our division.
Nailed it. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? You know, my dad said a long time ago, and you know the saying: treat other people the way you wish to be treated.
Which kind of fits with your Dove campaign. There are some pretty goofy endorsements out there, but this one seems like it has some substance to it. I feel that it humanizes the athlete. It really showed a different side of me, a more personal side. We’re not necessarily just robots, we’re human beings.
Well, I’m a human being... from Baltimore. In 1983 you famously promised to not play if the Baltimore Colts drafted you, threatening to go play for the Yankees (the Yankees!) if they did. Well, first of all, it did not have anything to do with the city of Baltimore, the people of Baltimore. I had already played a year of minor league baseball with the Yankees between my junior and senior year in college. At that point in time, the Colts’ organization was run by Robert Irsay, who I didn’t have a great deal of confidence in.
He’s still a public enemy in Baltimore. I think the thing that got misconstrued was that it had anything to do with the city of Baltimore, which it never did. It was the way that organization was run, and you know, he ended up picking up and leaving, what, a year or two later?
Yeah, 1984. I didn’t think I had a great opportunity to be successful with that organization at that point in time, and so I told them that if they drafted me that I would go play baseball and see what happens.
I think it paid off. Yeah, we got lucky.
And now you live in Colorado. Been in the news a bit lately. Did you vote for Proposition... you know, the pot one? [laughs] Yeah, I wanna stay away from that one... but no, I was not for that.