Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Elway Stands Tallest at Year's End

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Elway Stands Tallest at Year's End

Article excerpt

John Elway got a game ball last weekend -- hardly his

first, and probably not his last, but maybe the one with the

most meaning.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan gave his veteran, Hall-of-Fame

bound quarterback a game ball when the Broncos beat the Raiders,

and not because Elway knocked yet another team out of the

Jaguars' playoff path.

Elway got a game ball because that day, he became the

winningest NFL quarterback of all time.

"People talk about yards and touchdown passes -- but what's

more important than winnng?" Shanahan said after Elway won for

the 126th time as a starter, one ahead of Fran Tarkenton and

four ahead of Dan Marino. "To have the most wins in the history

of the NFL -- I'm not sure if there's a better award that can be

bestowed on someone."

Elway has made bad teams mediocre, and took three average teams

to Super Bowls. Marino, despite the attention given his Super

Bowl quest, took an otherwise average team to a Super Bowl only


Elway has matured. He uses receivers better, and has better

touch and feel. He has had better statistical seasons, but he

has never been better.

And he is the Most Valuable Player of the NFL this season.

With that, here are my other year-end awards:

MVP: Elway.

Comeback player: Drew Bledsoe, Patriots. In Week 3 against the

Jaguars, he looked confused, and at times, looked like a bust.

Instead, he has completed 342-of-576 passes for 3,785 yards and

25 touchdowns (13 interceptions) and the Patriots won their

first AFC East title since 1986.

Biggest surprise, team: Carolina. If the second-year Panthers

win today, they'll have a firstround bye and a home game for the

second round of the playoffs.

Biggest disappointment, team: Redskins. After a 7-1 start, they

not only won't make the playoffs, they're not even in it on the

final weekend. Pathetic.

Biggest surprise, player: Anthony Johnson, Panthers. …

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