Fourth-and-12, QB. What are you going to do? "At some point it hits you," Elway says, "that this fairy-tale life you've been leading is not real."
But nobody does comebacks like Elway. He started to change. He'd go to Janet's rented house and pull weeds in her garden when she wasn't home. He went to the mall with her. "John hadn't been to a mall in 16 years!" she says. He sent her roses every week, opened car doors, started hanging out with his kids.
Sometimes you think you have to be a god when all you really need to be is human. Within a month the family was back together under one roof. "Them leaving kind of woke me up," John says. "It was like a two-by-four to the heart."
You'd hardly recognize Elway now. He talks Zen-like about just being. He's adding a yoga room to his house. He says things like, "I'm trying to do things now that make me content, things that aren't necessarily about achieving." This from a guy who once sold his pool table because he'd finally lost a game on it.
Jocks spit out the I'm-gonna-drive-the-car-pool-now pap, but Elway is actually doing it. "I want to put my family first from now on," he says. That's not easy when the world has put you first your whole life.
"I was driving by [ Six Flags] the other day, and it hit me: I've never taken my family to the amusement park! So we're going, even if I have to rent it for a day. Or even if I have to tell people, 'Sorry, I can't sign autographs today. I'm with my family' And I remembered something—I happen to love roller coasters."
Sounds as if you just got off one.