Monday, June 22, 2009

On the NFL: Blowing up the Broncos

By John McMullen

(The Phanatic Magazine) - How the mighty have fallen.

The Denver Broncos were once one of the marquee franchises in the NFL.

Pat Bowlen was a great owner, Mike Shanahan was a top-notch coach and John Elway was a Hall of Fame quarterback.

Now, when I assemble my first power poll for the 2009 season, I'm considering putting the four UFL teams and half of the SEC ahead of the Broncos.

Whacking Shanahan for Josh McDaniels looked like a questionable decision, but let's face it, all coaches have a shelf life (even the great ones).

I wouldn't consider Shanahan great, but he did get Bowlen a pair of Super Bowls and was still awfully good.

But Shanahan's legendary hubris was becoming a problem and Bowlen had given him too much control. A close-minded devotion to the offensive side of the ball at the expense of an increasingly shoddy defense forced Bowlen's hand.

It wasn't necessarily a bad move and I'm sure Bowlen didn't mind taking a step backward if it meant taking two forward a few years down the line.

Unfortunately, Bowlen rolled the dice on the immature and inexperienced McDaniels, who uickly alienated the team's "franchise" quarterback, the even more immature Jay Cutler. The feud got so heated that Denver had to blink and ship Cutler to the Windy City.

Now, another star -- wide receiver Brandon Marshall -- wants out.

Instead of putting his foot down, a defeated Bowlen reportedly told Marshall last Friday that his desire to be traded will be accommodated.

"To whom it may concern," Marshall wrote on his personal blog, "Life is filled with change, and where I am in my life now change is probably best. It’s hard leaving an organization ran by one of the best owners in all of sports, and someone who’s been there for me through my ups and downs.

"The hardest thing was hearing Mr. B wish me luck in the future, but we both came to the conclusion that this is probably the best thing for me to grow on and off the field. I thank the Denver fans who embraced my emotion and play on the field and showing me love every time I step outside my door."

A classy attempt at a goodbye for a player who hasn't always been all that classy.

Marshall's well-documented legal problems, a recent hip surgery and a desire for a hefty raise won't make trading the Pro Bowler easy, but Bowlen -- who has publicly acknowledged that he’s suffering from short-term memory lapses -- seems intent on blowing this team up.
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