Wednesday is the accustomed transition day in the NFL as teams flip the page from games now three days old to focusing their efforts on the opponent ahead. Players are open to speak with the media, coaches hold a standard practice, and press conferences from both the starting quarterback and head coach take place in the afternoon.
While he probably won’t show anything more than a thankful wave to the fans or embracing with former colleagues that remain due to situation (there’s this physical game called football that’s gotta be played), Sunday marks the first time that head coach Mike Shanahan returns to Denver after 21 years with the Broncos organization–14 of which as head coach.
As Joe Gibbs and George Allen are here, Shanahan is considered one of, if not the, greatest coach in franchise history.
The Broncos were a consistent contender in the 1980’s, but like the Phoenix Suns in the mid-2000’s, simply couldn’t win “The Big One”. From 1986-1989 the Broncos appeared in the Super Bowl three times but left the stadium in the wee hours of the morning empty handed, wondering what it would take to capture that elusive Lombardi Trophy.
The solution was Mike Shanahan.
Replacing Wade Phillips in 1995, Shanahan led the Broncos to two Super Bowl victories and winning on-average 10 games per season.
Shanahan admitted on Monday that he looks back on his years in Denver fondly and still appreciates all that the city and organization did for him and his family.
“I think anytime you’re at a place for 21 years, you know, that’s quite a long time,” he said at his Monday press conference. “In football years, that doesn’t happen very often. It’s been where we raised our kids. I was head coach there for 14 years, an assistant for seven. I’ve got a lot of great friends there. You look forward to that type of rivalry. Obviously, you always want to play your best. I’m looking forward to playing there.”
Shanahan being the ultimate gamer also knows that there’s still a football game to be played against one of the league’s elite.
Peyton Manning is off to a historical start, the defensed returned two-time Pro Bowler Von Miller last Sunday and the special teams unit led by tiny but lethal weapon Trindon Holliday knows Washington is reeling.
But as we saw with Manning’s return to Indianapolis last week, once the first kick is booted into the sky it’s all business again.
“We all know how talented they are,” Shanahan said. “Of course they’re going to be hungry after coming off of a loss. We’re going to get their best shot, so we’re looking forward to it ourselves.”
According to the Denver Post, the Broncos are going to dedicate 20 seconds of Jumbotron space to Shanahan and his Denver coaching career when the Redskins starting lineup is announced.
A customary standing ovation and warm reception is expected from the Denver faithful during the showing of Shanahan in blue and orange—hopefully.
“I don’t think you really do. I think it’ll be very positive because you have 21 years and you have a lot of great memories. I think it’ll be fun going back there, getting a chance to spend all those years in one place. I’m sure hoping I don’t get booed.”
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