For jaded fans of Denver Sports, the idea of the Broncos landing running back Maurice Jones Drew via a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars seems like such a pipe dream that it's not even really worth discussing. It's radio fodder and little more. And, when the radio guys speculate about it, we all just shake our heads and chuckle at them for being silly entertainers.
We've have gotten used to seeing superstars like "pocket Hercules" fly around all four "big leagues" with no realistic chance of having them land here. It's a simple reality here at a Mile High. Denver's a destination - but not for the elite of the elite. It's an Andre Iguadala market, not a Dwight Howard one. And even "Iggy" types want out sooner or later. It's stop-over country. At least that's how we are conditioned to think.
Denver has "youth movements" and players fit our "systems".
The Colorado Rockies are in the midst of innovating - changing baseball forever with their 4-pitcher, 75 pitch rotation. Rather than vying for top hurlers, they have painted themselves into a corner with their assumption that nobody decent wants to play at our elevation. Instead of loading up, they shrivel up. Under Dan O'Dowd the Rockies have treated us to a feast of mediocrity, which we have gobbled up and washed down with $8 pints of Coors Light. We accept, like they accept, that their best may never be good enough. And it's OK.
The Avalanche like players young and inexpensive. Their promise is never for this season to be successful. But wait until next year, when these guys have matured and had a chance to "gel". Next year rolls around and it's the exact same thing. But we don't say much. There's a presumption that team management has a mysterious recipe that we don't fully understand.
George Karl wants his Nuggets players to "run" even though Championship teams play a half-court game - epecially in the playoffs. But it's not a "superstar system", they all say. Karl is a basketball wizard with a brilliant vision and we fans tend to over-simplify things by believing that talent trumps trickery. Season after season we see the same thing. The Nuggets excel in the regular grind, compete at the top of their division and yet have no hope of taking the trophy. We have accepted that an appearance in the second round of the playoffs is the grand prize for the Blue and Yellow.
The Denver Broncos are not the Rockies. They're not the Avalanche and they're not the Nuggets. John Elway proved that as soon as he signed Peyton Manning - the most sought after free agent in NFL history.
Elway sees his team as in immediate contender - not to win the AFC West - not to make it to the second round - but to put another Lombardi Trophy on display in the halls of Dove Valley. And he's not intimidated by star power. Elway will assume that the big names want to play here and he won't be afraid to go get them. Elway knows that talent wins.He will stock his team and let the pencil pushers count the nickels and dimes.
The potential availability of Maurice Jones Drew has the NFL buzzing. And you can bet that Elway's been working the phones. You might say we don't need MJD - that it's crazy to go after him - that we can't afford him - that he's getting too old - that his contract is too onerous. Just like we did when Renaud Notaro first suggested that the Broncos should pursue Peyton Manning. But we should know by now that John Elway is thinking on another level. He's a Champion.
The Denver Broncos are not the Nuggets, ladies and gentlemen. They're the Patriots. They are going to play the game at the very highest levels. That means that signing a guy like MJD is never out of the question.
It's going to take some getting used to, this "break-the-bank" mentality. It's no holds barred. Not since the glory days of the late 1990's have Denver fans expected to be victorious. But there's a new Sheriff in Cow Town - and he's changing the game.