The Indianapolis Colts can thank Peyton Manning for their recent Super Bowl championship. His legacy is cemented with that franchise. Likewise, the Denver Broncos can thank Mike Shanahan, among a cast of others, for their two most recent Super Bowl championships. Sure, you probably associate those championships with John Elway and Terrell Davis more than you do Shanahan, but it was still his offensive system and his roster construction that set those championship seasons in motion.
For my part I just cannot imagine why there would be anything other than good feelings for Shanahan among Broncos fans. Like Manning, the departure was tough but it was in the best interest of everybody involved. The Josh McDaniels era was forgettable, but the series of events still played out to put the Broncos in a better spot. Likewise, Shanahan is building another team around his exceptional franchise QB Robert Griffin III. This worked out fine for everybody, and so we should only remember Shanahan fondly as he returns.
Here is a round-up of some other thoughts on Shanahan’s return to Denver today as his Washington Redskins take on the Broncos:
Mike has won twice as many championships as any other coach for the major professional sports teams in Colorado.
“During Shanahan’s 21 seasons with the Broncos as an assistant and a head coach, they reached five Super Bowls. When Mike was the commander in chief of football operations, the Broncos rode to double- digit victory seasons and the playoffs seven times and three conference title games, and they won an NFL-record 46 games over three seasons (1996-98). Mike had only two losing seasons in his 14.”
Gray Caldwell thinks back on the notorious trade in which Shanahan traded Clinton Portis to this very Washington team to acquire cornerback Champ Bailey:
Shanahan believed at the time that Portis’ desire for a new contract might result in an extended holdout, and he said it could’ve taken ”a lot of time to get things done.”
The way the running back remembers it, he was at the Pro Bowl in Honolulu, participating in an interview with reporter Adam Schefter along with the rest of the Broncos’ Pro Bowlers.
‘The next thing I knew, it was breaking news that I wanted out of Denver, which was not my stance,’ Portis said.
Still, he got word that he was able to test the trade market, and the first team that came to mind was Washington.”
Shanahan also selected left tackle Ryan Clady with the first round pick in the 2008 draft. Clady was just the fourth offensive lineman in league history to start every game and make three Pro Bowls in his first five NFL seasons prior to this season.
“We can thank Shanahan for luring the most loyal Denver Bronco, Champ Bailey, to Denver in 2004. There isn’t much to say about all of his accomplishments other than he’s a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.
“Shanahan believed in undrafted college free agent linebcaker Wesley Woodyardenough to sign him. He’s been a team captain in each of his six seasons with the Broncos, and he led the team in tackles last season.”
Once this game starts, both teams need a win in the standings as we reach the halfway point of the season. That will be the story then. For now and until the kickoff this afternoon, these deep connections will be the story.