by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

NEW ORLEANS — “Hello, Doc.”

“Why, Mr. Elway. You’re back.”


“Something wrong?”

“Kind of.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“Guess so.”

“Lie down on the couch. Now then, is the press bothering you again?”

“A little bit.”

“You feel suffocated.”

“Well, I–“

“You are overwhelmed.”

“Well, I–“

“They’re asking what kind of Halloween candy you gave out. They’re interviewing your milkman. They’re picking through your trash, hoping to find what brand of toilet paper you use.”

“No. That was last time. This time, it’s the Super Bowl.”

“What’s wrong? You can’t get tickets?”

“No, Doc. We’re . . . ahem . . . in it again.”

“Good gracious. Mr Elway. I told you a few years ago, that game is bad for your health.”

“I know.”

“I warned you in ’87. I warned you in ’88. Do you remember when you came to me after that second loss? You wore a ski mask. You signed in as ‘Wally Cox.’ I said, ‘Make yourself comfortable,’ and you crawled under the desk. Now you’re going back?”

“I couldn’t help it. I tried to throw low, but the guys kept catching it. Next thing I know, we’re flying to New Orleans.”

“What’s the outlook?”

“We’re heavy underdogs.”

“How heavy?”

“Do the Falkland Islands ring a bell?”

“How are your fans reacting?”

“They think we should stay home. We can’t do that, of course.”


“Hotel rooms. We paid in advance.” Please come to Denver . . . if you win “Well, then, Mr. Elway. It seems that you and the Broncos are stuck going through with this. What bothers you the most?”

“I guess it’s everybody’s expectations. The press keeps hounding me, asking how important it is for me not to lose another Super Bowl.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“It’s like they expect me to lose.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“I mean, I know San Francisco is good and all.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Hey. Are you with Sports Illustrated or something?”

“Sorry. Let’s try another angle. What is the best-case scenario for this Super Bowl?”

“We could win by 20 and I’d be a hero.”

“Fat chance.”


“Um, nothing. What is the worst case?”

“We could get blown out.”

“And then?”

“And then I’d have to go back to Denver and hear about how I can’t win the big one. I’d have to hear about how the 49ers quarterback is better than me. And how Doug Williams, the Washington quarterback, was better than me. And how Phil Simms, the New York quarterback, was better than me. Phil Simms! Can you believe it?”


“And the worst thing, Doc? It’s not my football they pick on. It’s my personality.”


“They say I’m dull. They say I never do anything colorful. They say I’m deadly on the field and deadly off it, too. I don’t get it. Do you think I’m dull?

“Mmmm . . . mmzzzz . . . zzrplp.”


“What! What? . . . Oh, uh. Yes. How do you feel about that?” Don’t worry, be happy “Doc. You gotta help me. All I ever wanted to do was wear a helmet and throw the ball and have towel fights in the shower. But now, I can’t get a moment’s peace. Someone is always snapping my picture and saying, ‘Is this the year, John?’ Or they phone my room and say, ‘Is this the year, John?’ Or they jump in my taxi and say, ‘Is this the year, John?’

“They even ran a radio poll in Denver and found that a huge percentage of people wished we could skip the Super Bowl so we wouldn’t have to lose again. I mean, that’s a little depressing, you know?”

“Mr. Elway. I believe you are suffering from something known as Performance


“Really? Is there a cure?”

“Yes. Unfortunately, it involves winning.”

“Gee. That could be tough. What should I do?”

“That depends. Have we passed the trading deadline?”


“In that case, go back to the hotel, see if you can find that ski mask and try to relax.”

“Thanks, Doc.”

“Now, I’m sorry, but we have to wrap up. I have another appointment with a Mr. Montana.

“Joe Montana?”

“Why, yes.”

“Joe Montana comes here? Wow. That’s encouraging. That makes me feel better. What’s his problem? Rejection? Depression?”

“Inspection. He owns the building.”


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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