KUBIAK RETURNS TO BRONCOS AS ADVISER
Hours after agreeing to a new, five-year contract to stay on as general manager and executive vice president of football operations, John Elway welcomed back a longtime friend and coach he said farewell to only seven months earlier.
Gary Kubiak, the Broncos’ former head coach who resigned in January, was re-hired Tuesday as a senior personnel adviser, rejoining his sons Klint (offensive assistant/ quarterbacks) and Klein (Southwest area scout) on the team’s staff.
Kubiak’s new role mirrors that of fellow senior personnel adviser Tom Heckert. Kubiak, who will be based in Houston and make occasional trips to Dove Valley, will focus mostly on offensive college prospects and help with the team’s evaluation in free agency. Heckert, who is based in Colorado, will do the same for the defense.
“It’s an honor for me to continue to be part of this great organization,” Kubiak said in a statement. “John and I talked long ago about any opportunity like this, and I’m very happy to be able to contribute on the personnel side. I said when I left that I still wanted to be involved in football. This gives me an opportunity to be involved with the game, and I’m excited to get to work.”
Kubiak’s quick return to the NFL should come as no surprise. When he stepped down Jan. 2, he said he was “getting out of coaching” but not the game entirely.
“I have a lot to give,” he said then. “I’m going to find something else to do and I’m going to wake up with that same passion and do that, just like I’ve coached for the last 20-something years.”
Last season, Kubiak suffered a health scare early in the season — his second as an NFL head coach — and before the Broncos’ final road game at Kansas City, he informed Elway that the season would be his last. Kubiak’s heath was a driving factor. He couldn’t do the job as thoroughly as he always had, and he didn’t want to compromise.
But he wasn’t done completely.
A month later at Super Bowl LI, Kubiak told The Denver Post he was itching to get back, that he had already had “some great conversations around the league with some people” and that he hoped to make a decision on his next career path within the coming months.
“My next stop is not going to be coaching, and I’m kind of excited about that because there are a lot of things about the game that I’ve always loved,” he told The Post. “I love evaluating, I love the draft, I love evaluating players and doing those types of things. I had some really interesting conversations with some colleges.”
What he didn’t reveal then was that those actually dated to around the time he stepped down as the Broncos’ head coach. Ideas had been formulated and talks had already started between him and the team about him staying with the franchise he called home. Over the past several months, he has had multiple conversations with Elway as well as head coach Vance Joseph about making a return.
“With as much experience as he has evaluating players,” Elway said, “Gary’s going to be a tremendous resource for our personnel department.”
In his first year as the Broncos’ head coach in 2015, Kubiak led the Broncos to their third NFL title, becoming only the fourth man to lead a team to a Super Bowl victory in his first year as its head coach. And he did so while managing an injured Peyton Manning and an inexperienced Brock Osweiler at quarterback while the defense starred. The following season, despite a playoff elimination, Kubiak helped groom a pair of young quarterbacks in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
In his two years at the helm, Kubiak guided the Broncos to 24 wins to tie Red Miller for the most in franchise history in his first two seasons as head coach. In 10 seasons as an NFL head coach, in Houston and Denver, Kubiak posted a career coaching record of 8777 (.534).
For 22 years, he was a part of the Broncos, spending the first nine as Elway’s backup quarterback (198391), 11 more as the team’s offensive coordinator (19952005) and two as head coach. Kubiak and Elway have been a part of all three of the Broncos’ Super Bowl championships.
Together they hope to be a part of a fourth.
“I think everybody had a feeling he’d get back into it some way,” Siemian said. “It’ll be cool. I’m sure he’ll be around the facility coming up here, but I’m lucky to have him coming back in Denver. In whatever capacity he’s in, I’m sure people would love to have him. Glad he’s back.”
Gary Kubiak’s absence from the Broncos didn’t last long, which is fine by John Elway.
Gary Kubiak’s new role won’t include the public glare.