WHAT’S TAK­ING SO LONG ON ELWAY’S CON­TRACT?»

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - MARK KISZLA Denver Post Colum­nist

Life is weird. Weird stuff hap­pens. Al­ready in 2017, we’ve seen a grilled cheese sand­wich held hostage and Antarc­tica give birth to an ice­berg the size of Delaware. But around th­ese parts, here’s maybe the weird­est thing of all: The Bron­cos have dil­lied and dal­lied in get­ting John Elway signed to a new con­tract.

What’s the dang deal? Way back on the sec­ond day of Jan­uary, I asked Bron­cos pres­i­dent Joe El­lis why Elway was work­ing in the fi­nal year of his deal and if we should be con­cerned the face of the fran­chise could walk as a free agent.

Nearly 200 days ago, El­lis told me: “I don’t re­ally see (John) work­ing any­where else. And I feel it’s im­por­tant I do ev­ery­thing I can to make sure that doesn’t hap­pen. Look at his record. Quite frankly, I could see teams call­ing and say­ing: ‘Hey, we’d like to have a dis­cus­sion.’ I have no in­ter­est in los­ing him. I have ev­ery in­ter­est in keep­ing him.”

Well, life moves pretty fast, doesn’t it, Fer­ris?

Shortly af­ter El­lis pledged his com­mit­ment to keep­ing Elway as the guru of foot­ball op­er­a­tions, I read a strange story about a guy in Mary­land so irked about a fam­ily mem­ber sneak­ing a bite of his grilled cheese sand­wich he chased ev­ery­body out of the house and bar­ri­caded him­self and his meal in­side un­til the cops ar­rived.

Which was pretty weird. But no weirder than: The Bron­cos have been in con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions with Elway since at least

Oc­to­ber. And what’s hap­pened so far? Zippo. Could Elway ever work for an­other NFL team? Oh, I doubt it, too. But stranger end­ings have hap­pened.

Can I give you an ex­am­ple? The en­ve­lope, please. In Fe­bru­ary, War­ren Beatty and Faye Du­n­away an­nounced the fake news that “La La Land” had won the academy award for best pic­ture.

If the team let Elway get away, Bron­cos Coun­try would have a big­ger melt­down than the Star­bucks barista driven crazy by a Uni­corn Frap­puc­cino. Yet, in late April, when asked for an up­date on con­tract talks af­ter the first round on the NFL draft, Elway curtly replied: “We’re not go­ing to talk about that. We’re in the mid­dle of this. We’re try­ing to get bet­ter as a foot­ball team. We’ll talk about that later.” Al­righty then.

Hey, the big stuff takes time. That might ex­plain why Emily Seil­hamer, a 24-yearold de­signer from Penn­syl­va­nia, was so proud in May when an­nounc­ing she had com­pleted a dress made en­tirely out of 10,000 Star­burst candy wrap­pers. About the same time, Elway vowed he “looked for­ward to be­ing here with the Bron­cos for a long time” and added “I don’t think there will be any doubt” a deal would get done be­fore Denver opened the sea­son in Septem­ber.

Well, the 57th birth­day of Elway came and went. None of us is get­ting any younger. The Fourth of July has been crossed off the sum­mer cal­en­dar, lit­tle yel­low min­ions have made $160 mil­lion at the box of­fice, Bron­cos train­ing camp is just around the cor­ner, and I have one nag­ging ques­tion for Mr. El­lis: Are we there yet?

New coach Vance Joseph doesn’t know who his start­ing quar­ter­back is. The team’s sta­dium has been with­out a proper name since 2016. Elway is in the fi­nal year of his con­tract. This is not ex­actly busi­ness as usual.

Think the Bron­cos miss Pat Bowlen around Dove Val­ley Head­quar­ters?

How hard could it be to cut a deal with Elway, the one man most re­spon­si­ble for the fran­chise’s three Su­per Bowl vic­to­ries?

What’s it go­ing to take to get Elway to sign on the bot­tom line? An own­er­ship stake in the Bron­cos? Or a to­tal eclipse of the sun?

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