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Elway expected to land Denver AFL team

by AFL Press Release
August 8, 2001 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I)


AFL Press Release

Team To Begin Play in 2003 Season

NEW YORK - A group spearheaded by former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway has submitted an expansion application to the Arena Football League (AFL) to operate a team in Denver. If approved, the new team is expected to begin play in the 2003 season in Denver's Pepsi Center.

Elway's consortium includes Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke, who is also owner of the NHL's Avalanche, NBA's Nuggets and part owner of the NFL's Rams. Elway is scheduled to make a presentation to the AFL's Board of Directors on August 18, the day before the league's championship game, ArenaBowl XV. The title game will be televised on ABC (3 pm ET).

Denver was a charter member of the Arena Football League, the Dynamite defeating Pittsburgh, 45-16 on August 1, 1987 in the first ever ArenaBowl. The city has not had an AFL presence since 1991. Currently, the AFL consists of 19 teams and is expected to expand to as many as 24 teams in the 2003 season.

Elway retired in May 1999 as the winningest starting quarterback in NFL annals with a record of 148-82-1. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, and MVP in both a regular season (1987, sharing the honor with the 49ers' Jerry Rice) and a Super Bowl (1999) and finished his 16-year career ranked second in league history in passing yards (51,000) and third in TD passes (300).

Despite guiding the Broncos to Super Bowl victories in his final two seasons (against Green Bay in January 1998 and Atlanta the following year), Elway perhaps is best known for his ability to engineer fourth quarter comebacks. He called signals during an NFL record 47 game winning or tying drives, the most memorable during the 1986 AFC Championship game against the Cleveland Brown when he directed the Broncos' 99-yard game-tying touchdown series, still known 15 years later as "The Drive."

Elway is just one of many notable former NFL player or team owners involved with the Arena Football League and its developmental league, arenafootball2 (af2). Last month, a group including legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas announced it would operate an af2 team in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., beginning in April 2002. Just last week, former Oakland Raiders quarterback Kenny Stabler joined the Mobile (Ala.) Wizards as chief operator.

The late Walter Payton helped bring an expansion AFL club to Chicago this past season and current NFL owners such as Dallas' Jerry Jones, Washington's Daniel Snyder and Fred Drasner, William Clay Ford Jr., in Detroit, New Orleans' Tom Benson own AFL teams. Several other NFL owners have applied for and been granted franchises in the past few months, including the ownership of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and San Francisco 49ers.

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