How much does John Elway care about winning? The answer is a lot, but that’s not exactly the right question. The question should be: Does John Elway care about anything but winning?

As Peter King pointed out in his Monday column, Elway is about to accomplish something very, very, very few people have ever even come close to attempting: Lead his franchise to a championship both as a player and a general manager.

In fact, with a victory on Sunday, the list may be as short as Jerry West and John Elway.

And if the Denver Broncos do bring home their third Lombardi Trophy, they’ll do so as a team entirely constructed by the hands of No. 7, as 21 of 22 starters have arrived under his tenure.

This is his team, and he runs it for no other reason than that he wants to win.

Remember, John Elway does not have to do this. He doesn’t have a legacy to build or protect; until the day he dies, he’ll be the most famous and adored resident of the state of Colorado. He already has two championships and is worth nearly $150 million. He could walk away tomorrow, spend the rest of his days golfing and drinking strawberry daiquiris  at Cherry Creek Country Club, and nobody would blame him for a second.

Instead, he spends his days shifting through tape, following in his father’s footsteps, to find late-round gems like Danny Trevathan and Chris Harris; he consistently pulls one over on the rest of the league, brining in journeymen like Brandon Marshall in free agency and turning them into stars.

Just as John Elway has, does, and always will represent the Denver Broncos franchise, the Denver Broncos franchise will always represent John Elway.

And so it should come as no surprise when former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan shared this story with Peter King:

“In 1993, after Shanahan’s first year on the San Francisco coaching staff, Bowlen offered him the Denver head-coaching job. But they were $150,000 per year in salary and a company car apart from Shanahan’s bottom line, and Shanahan was holding firm. Elway found out. Elway said he’d pay him the $150,000 a year, and he’d provide the car Shanahan wanted. “You’re coming,” Elway said. Shanahan felt he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t have the quarterback paying part of his compensation. So Shanahan stayed in San Francisco. Wade Phillips coached the team for two years, then Bowlen got Shanahan to come, finally, in 1995.”

There are very few players in professional sports who are willing to take a $10 pay cut to help a franchise’s salary cap, let alone pay $150,000 worth of their coach’s salary and buy him a new car.

But, once again, it all comes down to winning for John Elway, and he’s proving it again this year.

Under John Elway, the Denver Broncos have the highest winning percentage in the NFL over the last four seasons, they’ve been to two Super Bowls, they’ve held the No. 1 seed in the AFC three times, they’ve taken home five consecutive AFC West titles and yet none of it matters.

All that matters to John Elway is that the Broncos win a Super Bowl, and until then, he’ll never be satisfied.

As Shanahan told King, “John knows this more than anybody: Nobody cares who finishes second.”