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"Why is it that when experts talk about a 'complete quarterback,' they never include running as part of the package?" Elway asks. "Defenses don't account for the quarterback. Nobody does. So it becomes 11 men against 10. Running just puts the pressure back on the defense."
Reeves doesn't want his leader to get maimed while running, but he is smart enough not to cramp Elway's style. "I never, ever mention scrambling to him now," says the coach. "That would take away his spontaneity. He runs when he has to, which is how it should be."
One thing Reeves did ask from the start was that Elway build himself up through weightlifting so he could withstand the pounding his scrambling style invited. Elway said sure, he'd lift, but he never did. Then one day awhile back Roger Staubach telephoned Elway and rhapsodized about the wonders of weights for the mobile quarterback. Reeves had asked Staubach to make the call. "Staubach was my idol, my childhood hero," says Elway. "His call got me over the hump." Now Elway can bench 300 pounds and do sets of squats with 350, and aside from the ankle injury and a minor concussion he sustained this season, he has not been hurt.
On a snowy Colorado night before the Broncos are to leave for Pasadena, Elway sits in the kitchen of his hilltop home in Aurora and watches Jessica, blonde and blue-eyed, eat spaghetti with her hands. Tall and athletic-looking Janet Elway, who has a sociology degree from Stanford, serves dinner.
On the floor lie the two Elway dogs, Leroy, an unshorn poodle, and Rufus, a black Labrador. Rufus is supposed to be a trained hunting dog, but he recently fell asleep in Elway's duck blind while shotguns blazed around him. The two dogs are part of a tableau of remarkable domestic tranquillity.
Elway appears to be totally relaxed. Earlier he had spoken with some humor about his image. "I have blond hair and I went to high school in L.A. and graduated from Stanford and I'm labeled a 'Californian.' But I was born in Washington and lived in Montana after that. I'm not a rebel. I've never stepped on a surfboard. I've hardly ever been to the beach."
He looks at his daughter with paternal affection. His life has been so wonderful, correct image or not, he says, that he doesn't have much to complain about. He wants a son so that he can have as much football fun with him as he had with his own dad. "I've been so fortunate," he says. "If I had to draw up a blueprint for a good life, it would be this."
Even the thought of a blitzing Lawrence Taylor can't chill Elway's warm reverie. "He's such a great player," Elway says cheerfully of the Giant linebacker. "I was lucky in our last game. I sidestepped him a little bit."
The quarterback knows that the Broncos aren't given much of a chance in the coming game, but that is almost soothing to him. "Being an underdog means nothing to us," says Elway. "There's no pressure. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose."
Let the two-minute drill begin.