Elway: Chargers win was toughest to watch

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Most quarterbacks in the NFL, especially those who do enough to eventually move past most of their peers and into the league's elite, like the control that comes with the job.

They like the ball in their hands with the game on the line. They like to set the tone and keep the peace in the huddle, like to lead in the meeting room and like to be the face, as well as emotional barometer, of a team.

John Elway was like that, through a pile of late-game football heroics and two Super Bowl wins, all the way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Then, Elway became a football executive only to realize, in large part, his control ends when the game begins.

"I'm getting better with letting the control go and knowing that there's nothing I can do," Elway said. "It was tough early."

And to this point in his tenure as the Broncos executive vice president of football operations, the toughest game for Elway to watch was not the Broncos' 45-10 playoff loss in New England to end the 2011 season. It wasn't the excruciating double-overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens to end the Broncos' 2012 season.

No, the toughest was a win, the 24-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers in the divisional round Jan. 12. The Broncos needed quarterback Peyton Manning to convert a third-and-17 with 3:01 left to play to go. A a conversion on third-and-6 three plays later closed the deal.

"And there's certain games that I look at that for us to be successful, we had to get over it," Elway said. "The San Diego game for me was a crucial game for us, so I was more nervous for that game than I had been since I took the job just because of the impact that I knew it would have on us as an organization, if we won or lost ... so I look at more the impact of each game and that determines how nervous I get."

The Broncos faced plenty of pressure before that divisional round game. The Chargers had been the last team to beat the Broncos this season -- a Thursday night win in Denver on Dec. 12 -- and as the No. 1 seed the Broncos were facing the same situation they had when they lost to Baltimore exactly a year before.

The Broncos played far more relaxed in the AFC Championship game, a dominant 26-16 victory over the New England Patriots. The win over New England earned the franchise's seventh Super Bowl trip.

Elway was the team's quarterback for five of those trips and Sunday's is the first for the Broncos since Elway was behind center for the second of back-to-back Super Bowl wins to close out the 1998 season, Elway's final year as a player.

Asked if winning the Super Bowl as a team executive would means as much as the two he won as a player, Elway said it would be just as important.

"I think that to be ... a part of that and to be on that was a part of putting this whole thing together, would be something that's very important and something I'd like to do," Elway said.