Elway & Kubiak Will get the Chance to Quash any Bad Blood as Broncos Play Vikings


Two old friends, who’ve known each other for over thirty years, will get a chance to meet up again this Sunday as their teams face off in Minnesota when the Denver Broncos come to town. Ever since they entered the NFL as quarterbacks in 1983, Gary Kubiak and John Elway have maintained a close bond of friendship and fostered a working relationship through their respective playing, coaching and front office careers that has led to three Denver Broncos World Championships.

Elway has always respected and valued his old friend’s prodigious abilities to coach and evaluate playing talent. After a sabbatical and time spent in the Broncos scouting department, Elway had marked out a return for his former head-coaching hire to breathe life back into the team’s struggling offense.

During the Elway’s courtship of a new head coach, the GM had made it clear publicly that it was a no-brainer that “Kubes” would be part of a greater coaching masterplan in 2019. So it came as a shock to see that mandate change so quickly with no obvious rift or argument sticking out as to the reason Kubiak left the Broncos. 

Multiple reports had several NFL teams willing to reach out to Kubiak, so he certainly had options available to him if he simply felt he had a better fit elsewhere. That ideal combination for him included getting the right mix of his traditional staff of coaches, players and overall coaching philosophies just right. Something he eluded to as he was unveiled by the Vikings during the summer.

“After doing the personnel for a couple of years in Denver I knew I wanted to do some more,” Kubiak expanded. “As things went on, you know they had their direction there and John [Elway] made a great hire in Vic [Fangio].”

While Kubiak was keen to remain diplomatic towards the Broncos' new head coach, it was compatibility issues that ultimately saw a parting of ways. It was clear that Fangio wasn’t going to simply have his own coaching staff thrust upon him without first performing his own process of due diligence, as he outlined after being officially announced as Denver’s 17th head coach.

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“None of the assistant coaching positions have been determined yet, and until things are ironed out and iron-clad, I prefer not to comment on that," Fangio said at his introductory presser. "But Gary is a hell of a coach. He’s a guy that I have respected throughout my career in the NFL, having competed against him at several stops. If Gary is interested, then I’m interested.”

From the evidence of the Vikings' offensive production and the stellar play of QB Kirk Cousins, it all points to the failure to find common ground that has hurt the Broncos the most when all is said and done. How much different could the offense have been in the Mile High City if Kubiak was working his magic instead of heading North?

"He’s doing a hell of a job there up there in Minnesota as you guys saw last night," Fangio said on Monday. "I’m sure you watched the game. Those guys are really good on offense right now.”

As is so often the case in sporting divorces, it can lead to rifts, and the bad blood can overrun what should be viewed historically with admiration and respect. With Kubiak and Elway’s legacies assured in Denver, a simple pre-game handshake on Sunday should go a long way to putting any controversy behind them once and for all. 

Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL and @MileHighHuddle.

Comments (2)
No. 1-2

It was my understanding that everything was good until Kubes wanted to “get the band back together.” If I remember correctly, part of Kubes leaving after 2016 was him essentially falling on the sword for his assistant coaches (i.e. Dennison) that Elway no longer wanted around.

No matter, I still prefer Scangs given the choice. Kubiak is a seasoned coach with invaluable experience, but Scangs’ play designs blow Kubes’ out of the water. If he can continue to grow as a play-caller the ceiling is much higher.


I was on record living in Texas since 95 and watching all of Kubiak's time with the Texans that I wished he had never shown back up and by the time he quit I was very vocal in saying if he wanted to I would fly to Denver and pack his office for him to get him out of the building. I have no doubt Kubiak preferred Bolles over Ramczyk (better athlete for "The Zone")which I heard that draft season. In Houston his hometown they couldn't wait for him to leave. And I will say it till I am blue in the face. There was only one way Gary Kubiak the coach ever stopped a Peyton Manning Offense,...… by coaching it. What he did to Peyton was the proverbial pound a square peg into a round hole. The guy never changes drags along his 3 Butt boy's and changes zip codes. Last but not least I never once heard Vance Joseph mentioned with anything connected to the Broncos until Kubiak showed up. He won the Super Bowl in spite of doing a helluva lot to try and screw it up. Glad he is gone and then some.