Elway ends suspense, says he’ll return to Denver for another year

DENVER (AP) — John Elway is coming back.
The quarterback ended four months of speculation today when he announced he would return for a 16th season with the Broncos.
“The bottom line is I wasn’t ready to quit competing,” Elway said. “I’ve got a lot of years to live in retirement and the last thing I want to do is pass up the opportunity to play one more year of football.”
The suspense began in January after Elway led Denver to its first Super Bowl championship in five tries.
The victory left him with the choice of ending his career at the top or returning to defend the title with several personal milestones within reach.
Elway, who will turn 38 on June 28, needs 1,311 passing yards to join Dan Marino as the only NFL quarterback to reach 50,000. He also is 22 touchdowns from 300 and 87 completions from 4,000.
Team owner Pat Bowlen was delighted by the announcement.
“I’ve got to keep pinching myself here because I’ve been waiting and hoping for this announcement for a long time,” Bowlen said.
In 15 seasons, Elway guided his team to more victories (138) than any other quarterback in NFL history.
He is the only player ever to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 200 yards in seven straight seasons (1985-91).
Famous for improbable late-game comebacks, he rallied his team to 44 game-saving drives in his career — more than any quarterback ever.
He was selected to eight Pro Bowls and was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1987. He affixed his name to 54 Broncos’ regular-season or postseason records.
But one goal consistently eluded him. He suffered three increasingly ugly Super Bowl losses and, at 37, had begun to wonder if he would get another opportunity.
It came Jan. 25 in San Diego against the defending champion Green Bay Packers. Despite mediocre statistics, Elway set the tone by scrambling and diving into two defenders for a first down to set up a Denver touchdown late in the third quarter.
In the closing minutes, Elway accounted for his 45th game-saving drive, completing a 23-yard pass to Howard Griffith to help set up Terrell Davis’ go-ahead scoring run in the 31-24 victory.
“I know that I’ve been labeled as the guy who’s never been on the winning Super Bowl team,” a jubilant Elway said then. “Boy, am I glad to get rid of that.”
Elway had minor surgery on his throwing shoulder in February, six months after rupturing a biceps tendon in his shoulder in a preseason game that was first feared to be career-threatening.
To some, that operation was a tipoff Elway was coming back, although he maintained as recently as Friday that he had not made up his mind.