The Elway Way

Updated: January 31, 2004, 10:27 AM ET
ESPN.com

John Elway spent his entire 16-year NFL career in Denver. And ESPN NFL analysts Tom Jackson and Mark Schlereth were there for the beginning and the end, respectively, of his now-Hall of Fame career.

Here's what the two former Bronco teammates had to say about Elway, from his arrival in 1983 to his departure after the 1998 season as a two-time Super Bowl champion:

In the beginning In the end
By Tom Jackson
Position: Linebacker
Teammate: 1983-86
By Mark Schlereth
Position: Offensive guard
Teammate: 1995-98
John Elway's induction into the Football Hall of Fame is a proud moment for all Denver Broncos, past and present. It's not too often that the first member of a team is elected, which makes this moment extra special. Elway shares this moment with all of us, because we're all in this together.

Elway: 1986
Elway: 1986

In my 10th year in the league, I never would have guessed that a young rookie who lined up behind the guard to take the snap, because he had forgotten where he was, would be headed to Canton, Ohio.

But Elway matured into the best football talent I've ever played with. Throughout his career, Elway posted big numbers; he's the winningest quarterback in league history, and he authored 47 fourth-quarter, come-from-behind victories. There wasn't a more dangerous place to be than facing Elway with time expiring for a defense.

His uncanny ability to perform in clutch situations puts him in a class of an elite few. It's more than just fundamentals, skills, and raw talent. Quarterbacks like Elway, Joe Montana and maybe even Tom Brady, possess an indefinable quality that enables them to persevere and ultimately succeed.

It's those intangibles that define and epitomize greatness.

Despite winning two Super Bowls, the moment that defines John Elway will always be "The Drive."

The 98½-yard game-tying touchdown against the Cleveland Browns, in Cleveland, to advance to the Super Bowl, is legendary.

Two stories stand out when I think about John Elway. The first, is the first time I faced my former team (Washington Redskins) playing for the Denver Broncos. The game was tied with time running down. And of course, that's when Elway was at his best.

Elway: 1998
Elway: 1998
Sure enough, the next thing you know, he was leading us on an eight-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a 43-yard, game-winning touchdown strike to wide receiver Rod Smith.

I was as giddy as a school girl, thanking Elway for leading us to the ever-sweet victory against my former team.

The second memory that stands out is also the one I'm asked about the most. During Super Bowl XXXIII, Elway scored on a quarterback draw that essentially put the game away in our favor. Celebration ensued, and we were both under a pile -- facemask-to-facemask. In that moment, we were frozen in time, just looking at one another.

At that moment, it was clear that Elway would win his first Super Bowl, and I would win my second. Overcome with elation, I looked John right in the eye and said, "Hey buddy, how ya' doin'?" And he just laughed.

After the game, Elway climbed on the team bus, sauntered up to me and said, "I will never forget that moment. Because it was the most ridiculous thing anyone has ever done."

Elway is very deserving of his moment in the sun. Canton is lucky to have him.