John Elway is one of the greatest players in the history of both the NFL and Stanford. Thirty years after he last played in Palo Alto and was selected No. 1-overall by the Denver Broncos, he will be honored by his alma mater.
Elway will have his No. 7 Cardinal jersey retired by the school where he first rose to national prominence.
“I am extremely humbled that Stanford has chosen to recognize me in this very special way,” Elway said in a statement. “It’s a tremendous honor to join Cardinal legends Ernie Nevers and Jim Plunkett with this distinction.”
It is a big deal, but the timing of the retirement will make everything just a little more crazy.
A year ago, Stanford knocked off mighty Oregon in overtime. The game would be the Ducks’ only loss as the Cardinal went on to win the Rose Bowl and Oregon was forced to watch the BCS national title game from home (of course, a Fiesta Bowl win is a pretty solid consolation prize).
As for Elway, this ceremony has been a long time coming. The quarterback threw for 9,349 yards and a then-conference record 77 touchdowns between 1979 and 1982. He was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year twice and earned his ticket into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
However, it is safe to say that Stanford will not be celebrating the very last play of Elway’s career when Oregon comes to town. With the lead and watching from the sidelines, Elway’s Stanford gave up a five-lateral touchdown to hated rival Cal – as the band marched the field – to lose on what is now known as “The Play.”
Sorry Elway, we know this is a celebration of your greatness, but here it is, one last brutal time: