By John Elway
John Elway, the winningest quarterback in NFL heritage, stocks his triumphs and tribulations with younger readers and encourages them to recollect that victory in any recreation is simply a comeback away.
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While friends spent the summer at the beach, I spent much of my time practicing passing plays with receivers or playing in a summer passing league. To improve my accuracy, I’d hit the goal posts from 35 yards out or have someone throw a football into the air from 40 yards away and hit it in midair with a pass. I did hang out with friends and go to the beach occasionally, although I never tried surfing. To be good at anything takes practice. And to practice enough means sometimes saying “no” to friends.
I worked hard in both sports to be in a position to say no to the Colts. Plus, I was honest with the Colts about my intentions. The only thing I regret is not communicating well enough that my problem was with the Colts’ management, not the city. The Broncos signed me to a five-year, $5 million deal, making me the highest paid NFL player before my first game. The pressure to perform rested squarely on my shoulders. I won the starting job in training camp, but I really wasn’t ready to be an NFL starter.
I crumpled to the grass in pain. I limped off the field and into the locker room. There, Dad asked me what I wanted to do—stay or go to the hospital. ” Dad did, and I played the second half. Hobbling on one leg, I threw a touchdown, but we still lost. My worst fears came true when doctors discovered my knee needed surgery. A. to fix my knee. For weeks nobody knew if my sports career was over. I just tried to stay positive and worked my rehab program. The knee healed well, but not in time for the basketball season.