Thursday, October 3, 2019

John Elway and the waffle maker

I was recently reminded of this glowing ESPN profile of John Elway from September 2016. It leads with this anecdote:

TO HEAR HIM speak of death as a hurdle, a dare, an obstacle to clear like first-and-98, makes me think of John Elway and, well, a waffle maker.

It was January 2011, the first day of Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Alabama. Shortly after 6 a.m. in the restaurant of a downtown Hampton Inn, scouts swarmed around the breakfast buffet before heading out to practice for player weigh-ins -- the grunt work, the stuff nobody wants to do. Out of the lobby elevator, barrel-chested, bowlegged and pigeon-toed, came John Elway.

He was less than three weeks into his new job running the Broncos. He wore a leather jacket. Desk clerks stared. Scouts stared. It was like Springsteen had showed up for open mic night. Elway approached the waffle maker, poured the batter and clamped the irons. The red light didn't come on. He flipped it over. Nothing. He fiddled with it. Still nothing. Then he got that look he gets when he's imposing his will. Brow furrowed, tongue hugging his upper lip. The look from when he threw the bullet that capped The Drive, the look from when he launched himself into three Packers near the goal line in Super Bowl XXXII. A look of high stakes let loose on a breakfast buffet, raising the question: Why, exactly, was he here?
The Broncos have gone 11-26 since the start of 2017. Another data point: