There is a political aspect to virtually every facet of life: cuts on high school teams (my best friend is still bitter about not making ThunderRidge’s basketball team 15 years ago), which parks go where, what regulations are on the food you eat, and so on and so forth.
People are encouraged to get involved. Go vote, go protest, go volunteer. Make your voice be heard! That’s all well and good. I do believe in a certain sense of civic responsibility. Yet, when people in sports do just that, people get worked into a tizzy.
On Monday, a letter written by Denver Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations/general manager John Elway accomplished just that. Written to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he offers his support for Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court bid.
— Peter Marcus (@MediaMarcus) March 20, 2017
Bwaaaaaaa? How dare he? John Elway should live and breathe football. Until the Broncos find a bonafide left tackle, he shouldn’t even talk to family about anything other than football.
Give me a break.
First off, nice work by Broncos Vice President of Public Relations Patrick Smyth, astutely refuting that the post was made on Broncos official letterhead. He also stated that the endorsement is from Elway and doesn’t represent the organization.
Not Broncos letterhead. Was written on John's personal letterhead (see left margin) & his endorsement is independent of the Denver Broncos. https://t.co/9DYZS0Aarq
— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) March 20, 2017
Now that that’s cleared up, let’s get back on track.
The letter itself is fine. It endorses Neil Gorsuch based on his character, his Colorado/Broncos connection and his credentials. It’s a non-controversial endorsement of a qualified candidate. Yet, he still is getting flack about it.
This article is not meant to defend or criticize Elway’s political beliefs, which aren’t all that hard to figure out (at least at the most basic level). This article is meant to defend his right to express them, regardless of what they may be, while also pointing out that they have nothing to do with how he performs in the areas he is being counted on to perform in.
Elway has never shied away from politics. He has spoken at rallies. He went to Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration. Hate to say it people, if he doesn’t want to stop, he doesn’t have to.
Elway is a big name. His voice carries weight in the Centennial State. How he chooses to use it is his call, and does not reflect on how he performs as an executive for the Denver Broncos.
I judge Elway for two things: his performance as a general manager and his performance as a player. Overall, I like the job he did/has done in both positions. I wish he drafted a little better, but hey, he’s only missed the playoffs once, has gone to the Super Bowl twice and won one Lombardi Trophy; so I can’t complain too much. He is also respectful and thoughtful when it comes to media obligations. For me, all that matters when it comes to Elway are those things, things related related to football. Well…and his steak, which is just delightful.
Keeping politics and sports completely separate is never going to happen. What we can separate is how we judge. Does how Elway feels about a nomination for the Supreme Court have any impact on what people expect out of him? Nope. At least it shouldn’t. So why is it a big enough deal to merit extensive media coverage and illicit some pretty extreme responses?
Now, I know that by writing this, I am part of furthering the narrative. It is what it is. Yes, Elway is a public figure. He is also a person, just like the rest of us. He has the right to an opinion. He has the right to voice that opinion. What he doesn’t have is a responsibility to tailor that opinion to appease the public.
If you want to call Elway into question for the signings he’s made, the players he selected in the NFL Draft or the one’s that got away, fine. Good or bad, that all comes with the territory. Most people’s opinion on Elway is directly related to football, let’s keep it that way.