Joe Montana won four Super Bowls and is considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time. John Elway won two Super Bowls and is considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Can you believe that the coach who had so much success with Montana, Bill Walsh, seriously thought about trading him for Elway even after winning a Super Bowl with the Notre Dame product? That was one of many intriguing details brought to light in ESPN’s 30 for 30 special on the 1983 NFL Draft.
This week, I finally got around to watching “Elway to Marino,” even though the film first aired on ESPN on April 23. The outstanding documentary chronicled the historic 1983 draft from the perspective of agent Marvin Demoff, who represented eventual Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway and Dan Marino, who were both first-round selections that year. Demoff maintained a diary on his daily affairs from that time so that he would be able to accurately relay all his business conversations with the Elways. Demoff was able to reconstruct history for the documentary by referring back to his notes.
The big controversy surrounding the draft was that Elway, who was coming off a record-breaking career at Stanford, did not want to go to the Baltimore Colts. The Colts were coming off an 0-8-1 season, and the Elways did not like the team’s head coach, Frank Kush. They also felt the franchise was unstable, which proved to be correct when the team moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis overnight prior to the 1984 season.
The Elways spent the months leading up to the draft saying that John would not play for the Baltimore Colts. They even used the multi-talented athlete’s baseball career — he was drafted and played a season for the New York Yankees minor leagues — as leverage in negotiations. Many teams tried trading with the Colts in order to get Elway, but most of the teams failed in their efforts. Colts GM Ernie Accorsi had a high price tag for Elway, which many teams could not meet. Plus, team owner Robert Irsay frequently dealt with teams on his own, which complicated the process.
But Demoff, in the documentary, dropped one bombshell.