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John Elway believes Sean Payton is the 'perfect fit' to help Russell Wilson rebound

Elway keeps office at Broncos facility, but has no official role
John Elway
Posted at 5:03 PM, Jul 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-14 00:13:05-04

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — John Elway will forever remain connected to the Broncos. In fact, even in retirement, he told Denver7 Thursday he has an office at Centura Training Center, keeping him tethered to the organization he led to two Super Bowl titles as a player and one as the general manager.

"I still go back for a lot of practices. So, I am around. I don’t have an official role there, but it's nice of them to keep me around a little bit," Elway told Denver7's Lionel Bienvenu from the American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

"I look forward to going to practices and games and still being involved. If they ever ask me a question, I have to do enough work to have an answer for them."

John Elway believes Sean Payton is the 'perfect fit' to help Russell Wilson rebound

Given Elway's résumé and his presence at some workouts this offseason, it was only natural to ask him about the organization's new coach, Sean Payton. The two know each other from multiple rounds of golf, and years of overlap in the NFL.

"I am excited. He’s a perfect fit for where we are right now, where the Broncos are right now. Obviously, he has a lot of skins on the wall. He won a Super Bowl before and won a ton of football games. I don’t think there could have been a better fit. I think he will be great," Elway said.

"It’s going to take some time with a new system, new coaches, even though the spring was very good. The expectations are up there. But they have calmed the expectations compared to last year, which is good. We have to do better with injuries. Hopefully we can stay healthy," he added.

And one question hangs over the franchise like a thought bubble: Can Payton revive quarterback Russell Wilson's career? Wilson posted his worst season in his first season in Denver, delivering career lows in touchdowns (16) and completion percentage (60.5).

"Sean has a great feel for the QB position. He’s so knowledgeable on the offensive side. I think he knows what Russell will do to the best. Like every good football team, we have to try to run the football and run it successfully. And if we do that, it gives Russell a much better chance to be successful in the passing game," Elway said.

"(Wilson) is such a positive guy. I think he’s excited about it. With what was going on last year, a lot of different things, Sean brings in so much experience. I think Russell is looking forward to that coach to put him in the best position to be successful. ... It was a tough year for him last year. But he’s positive and tough. He will bounce back, and I think he’s going to have a much better year this year."

Elway crafted some of the NFL's greatest memories by staging comebacks at old Mile High Stadium. He oversaw a team that advanced to a pair of Super Bowls at the current venue. There remains talk that the Walton-Penner ownership group will eventually build a new stadium, a subject that was broached in a lengthy survey to season ticket holders this past offseason.

What does Elway think?

"Who knows what is going to happen. One thing for sure, we are very lucky that (CEO) Greg Penner and the Walton family took this thing over. Following Pat Bowlen, which is hard to do, to be able to find an ownership group like we have now, Broncos Country should be very proud," Elway said. "They want to win football games and will do everything they can do to that. I don't think we could have found a better replacement for Pat."