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  • John Hadl on John Elway

    Hadl sounds off on QB greats
    By Tom Keegan (Contact)

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Ever the center of attention without ever trying to be that, cool as can be without necessarily being aware of that, John Hadl enjoys having lunch and dinner at the Eldridge Hotel, where the restaurant, Ten, is named after the number worn by another former Kansas University quarterback of note, Bobby Douglass.

    On a recent hot, steamy afternoon, Hadl, No. 21, took comfort in the air conditioning and got into the topic of conversation: quarterbacks. Before offering his opinion on Kerry Meier, the redshirt freshman who figures to be under center for every game he’s healthy over the next four years, Hadl shared stories on quarterbacks whose stars crossed with his over the years.

    “In my opinion, the greatest quarterback of all-time is John Elway, and I really, really believe that,” Hadl said. “He took two teams to the Super Bowl that had no business being there.”

    Hadl knew Elway long before that. He knew him when he was benched. Can you imagine that: John Elway benched? Hadl couldn’t at the time, and he was very close to the situation. Working under head coach Dan Reeves for the Denver Broncos in 1983, Hadl was Elway’s first NFL quarterbacks coach.

    Elway had forced a trade from Indianapolis, which took him with the first pick of the draft, because he did not want to play for the Colts. Veteran quarterback Steve DeBerg was on hand to help break in the quarterback out of Stanford.
    Reeves, Hadl said, wanted to start the season with DeBerg under center.
    “The rest of us wanted Elway, so he started Elway,” Hadl said. “We went into Pittsburgh. Elway didn’t have a good game, but he did just enough to win the game, which was a great sign. The next Monday at the team meeting, Reeves comes in front of the whole team, stands up, and says, ‘We’re going to start DeBerg this week. John didn’t have a good game. He’s not ready yet, and we’re not going to start him.’ I knew nothing about it until he stood up and said it.”

    Hadl said he was shocked.

    “It was an easy decision,” Hadl said. “I don’t know what Reeves was thinking. Reeves was a hell of a guy, but he’s not a people guy.”

    Hadl wasn’t the only one who had trouble believing his ears and strongly disagreed with the choice and the way it was handled.

    “Let’s say we’re looking at the stage,” Hadl said. “This way’s the locker room (points left) and this way’s the parking lot (points right). I’m sitting back watching Elway because I know how he was feeling. He gets up and goes out to the parking lot and I follow him out. He’s all the way out to his car and I said, ‘John, what are you doing?’ He said, ‘(Expletive) this (different expletive). I’m going back to my family. (Expletive) these guys.’

    “I said, ‘Wait a minute. Wait a minute. We have to talk about this. You have to realize everybody has been criticized in his life at least one time. You have to suck it up. You have to be tough. These things happen all the time. You’re going to get hit with things like this all the time.’ I kept talking and talking and whatever I said, I finally got him back in there. His old man called me that night and thanked me. He said, ‘That kid was leaving.’ True story.”


    Thanks to Bronco4Life and Medford Bronco for signature

    Rest in Peace - Darrent (27) and Damien (29

  • #2
    Amazing... and look at what the Broncos almost lost... *shakes head* I kinda been through it too... jus in hockey. I'm a goalie and i been run down for a bad game when i was 12 by the worst coach i ever had, so far... imma only 16, but, he didn't talk crap to me after the game right there on the ice, hell no, wait till we're in the room getting changed and lickin our wounds... i remember he looked at me and jus said " and you tell people you're a goalie.. hmph" I thought " oh screw you, i'll show you jackazz, just you wait". I was benched for 4 games, outta spite, i spose and we won 1, we went from first in our league to sixth jus like that... our other goalie got hurt and he said " well, i guess i got no choice, i HAVE to play you now." i said " naw ya don't, suit one of these other suckers up and let them fail you, as you all figure i did" I played and my grampa told me before we played to suck it up, show him he was wrong... PROVE him wrong Ty, he'll see... he did, we won our league that year... sports is a tough game, but, a great coach makes you smile when you lose it all, the kinda coach i got now, an amazing guy, and, my principal... heheh... sorry to drop off topic and babble, but, also, a true story.

    Lonewolf.
    Always beware of the Lonewolf.

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    • #3
      Go John Hadl!

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      • #4
        There are so many inaccuracies in John Hadl's quotes above that this story is completely laughable.

        Anyone who reads the above from John Hadl and believes a morsel of it, is a total moron.

        John Hadl was an all time legendary drunk, and he was also bitter at Dan Reeves firing him, and replacing him with Mike Shanahan for the 1984 season.

        I think Denver and Reeves both did the right thing.

        Hadl said “We went into Pittsburgh. Elway didn’t have a good game, but he did just enough to win the game, which was a great sign".

        Umm, ..... Mr Hadl, John completed one pass that day you drunk. And he was lifted at halftime. Steve Deberg won the game; the victory had nothing to do with Elway.

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        • #5
          Hadl said, “We went into Pittsburgh. Elway didn’t have a good game, but he did just enough to win the game, which was a great sign. The next Monday at the team meeting, Reeves comes in front of the whole team, stands up, and says, ‘We’re going to start DeBerg this week. John didn’t have a good game. He’s not ready yet, and we’re not going to start him.’ I knew nothing about it until he stood up and said it.”

          So Mr Hadl, Dan Reeves yanked Elway the day after the season opener huh??
          Gee, that's funny, ...... I own the tapes and it appears to me that Elway started the first 5 games of the season.

          Again, John Hadl should be ashamed of the above quotes. He's not even close.

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          • #6
            Always wondered why John and dan did not get along this may have started the ball rolling in the wrong direction.

            dan was an idiot to use John the way he did, run, run, ask John to bail him out on 3rd and 4+ yards. Our running game was poor at best and John had a lot of come from behind wins, because while reeves was a good RB not great, but he thought himself as a cowboy RB first and head coach third.

            I wonder how many of Marinos records John would have owned, if reeves did not have his head up his butt.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by B-Love
              There are so many inaccuracies in John Hadl's quotes above that this story is completely laughable.

              Anyone who reads the above from John Hadl and believes a morsel of it, is a total moron.

              John Hadl was an all time legendary drunk, and he was also bitter at Dan Reeves firing him, and replacing him with Mike Shanahan for the 1984 season.

              I think Denver and Reeves both did the right thing.

              Hadl said “We went into Pittsburgh. Elway didn’t have a good game, but he did just enough to win the game, which was a great sign".

              Umm, ..... Mr Hadl, John completed one pass that day you drunk. And he was lifted at halftime. Steve Deberg won the game; the victory had nothing to do with Elway.
              Reeves never did do the right thing by Elway. And that was not the only time Elway wanted to quit because of Reeves. Ironically, Shanny got the ax largely over Elway, too. I was a fan of Reeves', and I followed him to the Giants and then the Falcons, but when Reeves left Denver it was time for him to go.

              -----

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              • #8
                Originally posted by JRWIZ
                Always wondered why John and dan did not get along this may have started the ball rolling in the wrong direction.

                dan was an idiot to use John the way he did, run, run, ask John to bail him out on 3rd and 4+ yards. Our running game was poor at best and John had a lot of come from behind wins, because while reeves was a good RB not great, but he thought himself as a cowboy RB first and head coach third.

                I wonder how many of Marinos records John would have owned, if reeves did not have his head up his butt.
                It did establish John as one of the best balanced QBs in the league. One that could run and pass. An accurate slower Michael Vick, who was a Quarterback first and a runningback second. It makes him an all around better QB in my mind to be able to do all sorts of things and his versatility is also what makes him one of the greats of all times.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by B-Love
                  So Mr Hadl, Dan Reeves yanked Elway the day after the season opener huh??
                  Gee, that's funny, ...... I own the tapes and it appears to me that Elway started the first 5 games of the season.

                  Again, John Hadl should be ashamed of the above quotes. He's not even close.
                  That's right .... I dont have the tapes, but my recollection is that Elway's last start was Week 4 or 5, vs. the Raiders at old Mile High. He was awful ... and Reeves (rightly) made the change.

                  What I also remember about that game (an interest B-Love and I share) was the uniforms .... Denver wore the white jerseys at home .... everybody said Reeves wanted to be like his Dallas Cowboys.

                  The worse part wasn't the white Bronco jerseys ... it was the hated Raiders wearing black in Mile HIgh.






                  Unthinkable.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by B-Love
                    Hadl said, “We went into Pittsburgh. Elway didn’t have a good game, but he did just enough to win the game, which was a great sign. The next Monday at the team meeting, Reeves comes in front of the whole team, stands up, and says, ‘We’re going to start DeBerg this week. John didn’t have a good game. He’s not ready yet, and we’re not going to start him.’ I knew nothing about it until he stood up and said it.”

                    So Mr Hadl, Dan Reeves yanked Elway the day after the season opener huh??
                    Gee, that's funny, ...... I own the tapes and it appears to me that Elway started the first 5 games of the season.

                    Again, John Hadl should be ashamed of the above quotes. He's not even close.
                    "Hadl said that Reeves said "we're going to start DeBerg this week. John didn't have a good game. He's not ready yet, and we're not going to start him."

                    Hadl said that is what Reeves said he was going to do, but Hadl, no where, says that this is what happened.


                    Thanks to Bronco4Life and Medford Bronco for signature

                    Rest in Peace - Darrent (27) and Damien (29

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JRWIZ
                      Always wondered why John and dan did not get along this may have started the ball rolling in the wrong direction.

                      dan was an idiot to use John the way he did, run, run, ask John to bail him out on 3rd and 4+ yards. Our running game was poor at best and John had a lot of come from behind wins, because while reeves was a good RB not great, but he thought himself as a cowboy RB first and head coach third.

                      I wonder how many of Marinos records John would have owned, if reeves did not have his head up his butt.
                      This is the classic type of post that lets me know who knows their Bronco history for real, and who lets TV reporters and revisionist historians tell them how to think.

                      Always wondered why John and dan did not get along this may have started the ball rolling in the wrong direction.

                      Dude, Hadl's comments are flat out lies. Reeves fired him and replaced him with Mike Shanahan. He was bitter and is telling flat out lies. And he's such a drunk he doesn't even remotely remember what happened.

                      "dan was an idiot to use John the way he did, run, run, ask John to bail him out on 3rd and 4+ yards."

                      This one always gets me rolling. From 1985 to 1989, we were one of the most aggressive passing teams in the league. This run run pass sterotype is complete ****ing bull****. In 1985 Elway led the NFL in Pass Attempts and in 1987 and 1988 he was near the top as well. In 1986, we blew a bunch of teams out, so we ragged the clock a bit in the 2nd half, but we were EXTREMELY PASSING AGGRESSIVE during the competitive phases of football games in 1986.

                      It frustrates me when I see a poster with 9,000 posts on a Broncos fan board not know what he's talking about.

                      "Our running game was poor at best"

                      Not it wasn't. Our running game during the Reeves years ranged from Average to Strong. We were never below 6th or 7th in production in the AFC, which means there were a helluva lot of teams below us.

                      "and John had a lot of come from behind wins, because while reeves was a good RB not great, but he thought himself as a cowboy RB first and head coach third."

                      Ouch, don't know where to start here. John Elway averaged more 4th quarter comebacks per season under Mike Shanahan than he did under Dan Reeves. Fact. Simply a fact.

                      Dude do the research yourself and stop letting ESPN Sportscentury and Peter King tell you how to think.

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                      • #12
                        I thought he sounded off on NFL QB Greats. As in the plural form. I only see one QB mentioned.
                        The Browns are gone; I'm not a fan of the Impostors

                        The real Browns are in Baltimore, see?

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                        • #13
                          John Elway is my favorite football player of all time, but I was bleeding orange and blue when Don Horn and Steve Ramsey were mucking up the 1971 season.

                          I'm embarrassed for people who drink the John Elway Kool Aid though. Elway is completely immune to criticism from people and I do not understand it. From 1983 to 1985, there was plenty of valid criticism to go around.

                          John Elway walks out of camp in his rookie year and that should be a critique of Dan Reeves?? Huh?? Not it's not, it should be a complete indictment of how childish and ****ing spoiled John Elway was when he came into the league. He was so spoiled that coaches, including Assistants, were not allowed to address him in an angry tone??

                          I know many former players through my tape hobby and I know many long time fans from grass roots fan groups, and many of you would be surprises at some of the untold John Elway stories. John Elway did not learn to become a total team player and great teammate until 1985. In '85 there were still some holes in his game, but by that time he had learned locker room politics and had become the unquestioned leader of the team. In '83 and '84 he still had significant holes in his game, and even more problems in his relationships.

                          Dumping all of that on Dan Reeves, which is what MOST BRONCOS FANS DO, is just wrong.

                          Do people remember that John Elway was seeking help for depression in his rookie year and that Janet dumped him during his rookie year?? There are stories of how Elway wouldn't sleep for days at a time because he was so down. And there were legendary lat night drinking escapades and major curfew violations. Dan Reeves kept the blinders on many a time and also helped with the "Great Orange Wall of Silence" to protect the guy as well.

                          Critiquing Dan Reeves for Elway's rookie year and even 1984 is just wrong. Elway had so many things going against him, including his personal life, that blaming Reeves for 1983 and 1984 is just silly.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by topscribe
                            I was a fan of Reeves', and I followed him to the Giants and then the Falcons, but when Reeves left Denver it was time for him to go.

                            -----
                            Completely agree scribe, it was time for him to go after 1992.

                            However, as a Broncos historian, I hate when people just file 12 very good years of Broncos success under "Reeves sucks". It's such surface level bull**** with no analysis. I don't know if it makes people feel good to just vent but they portray one of the most important figures in team history (Reeves) as the devil and a bad guy. It's total crap.

                            I look at Dan Reeves time with the Broncos in three phases, all of them uniquely different.

                            1981 -1984 - one of the most transitional times in team history, almost a complete overhaul of the Offensive skill position players, while several Orange Crush defenders were getting long in the tooth. Alot of success.

                            In 1981, if Craig Morton doesn't throw away the season in Chicago on the final Sunday, we win the Division and host a playoff game. After the strike shortened season of 1982, we make the playoffs with Deberg getting 7 of the wins in 1983, and then come back with 13 wins with minimal contriburtions from John Elway in 1984.

                            If you think Dan Reeves was a bad coach, 81-84 proves you wrong. We were on the verge of the AFC # 2 seed, with a 39 year old QB, in 1981. And in 1983 a Deberg led team gets us a playoff spot, while we win 13 games with pretty minimal contributions from John Elway in 1984. Those years were probably Reeves finest hour with Denver.

                            1985-1989 - The Elway Reeves partnership doing well together. Some spotty times, AS ALL HC QB'S RELATIONSHIPS SUFFER FROM, but despite what most people believe, the Elway Reeves relationship was very healthy, or at least "normal" from a HC-QB standpoint. Alof of success, at least at the Conference level.

                            1990 - 1992 - Injuries destroyed us in 1990, but we collapsed and lost 8 of our 11 losses in the 2nd half, which has to be blamed on the coaching staff. Even though we won 12 games and the AFC 2 seed in 1991, I still villify Reeves for the personnel he put Elway out there with. The skill position personnel was simply unacceptable. 1992 was a disaster also.

                            So I agree scribe that it absolutely time to go. But there are way to many surface level knuckleheads, who just type up complete nonsense about the Elway Reeves relationship. It drives me nuts. I wish people people would just remember it like it happened and not for just how it ended.

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                            • #15
                              Reeves is a good coach. that being said, he left elway out to dry most of his time in denver.With the offensive plan to keep it close and let elway pull it out in the 4th. It's ok, but elway should've had more weapons. Dan will get you to a superbowl, but cann't win it.
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