Sunday, April 22, 2001
Jack Elway was major influence on son's career
DENVER Jack Elway, the father of John Elway and an
innovative college coach in the 1970s and '80s, died of an apparent
heart attack at his home in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 69.
Jack Elway died Sunday morning, Broncos spokesman Jim Saccomano
said. John Elway, the retired Denver Broncos' quarterback, flew to
Palm Springs on Sunday to help with funeral arrangements.
Jack Elway retired last year as the Broncos' director of pro
"A lot of people don't understand how close he (John Elway) and
Jack were, even the people around him," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen
Coach Mike Shanahan said Jack Elway was crucial in building the
Broncos' two Super Bowl championship teams.
"Jack was happy to stay in the background and let others get
more public attention, but his position with us was truly
invaluable," he said.
For the past two weeks, the elder Elway lent his expertise in
the Broncos' predraft meetings, working side by side with his son.
John Elway considered his father his best friend.
John Elway, who retired from the Broncos after winning a second
Super Bowl title in 1998 and who has designs on owning or running
an NFL team, was offering football insight and learning about draft
When the meetings wrapped up Friday, Jack Elway returned to Palm
Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick, an assistant under Elway at
Stanford, called him a "classy, loving person. He was as fine a
coach as there was and, more important, as fine a man as there
A native of Hoquiam, Wash., Jack Elway played quarterback at
Washington State, where he earned his bachelor's and master's
Elway taught and began his coaching career at Port Angeles High
School. From 1961 through 1966, he was head football coach at Grays
Harbor College in Aberdeen.
He left after the 1966 season to become an assistant to his
former high school coach, Jack Swarthout, at the University of
Montana and later was an assistant at Washington State. Jim
Sweeney, WSU head coach at the time, said of Elway, "He recruited
so many kids to Montana I'd wanted that I figured I'd better hire
At the college level, Elway was head coach at Cal
State-Northridge (1976-78), San Jose State (1979-83) and Stanford
In 34 seasons as a head coach and assistant coach in high
school, junior college and college, he posted a .650 winning
percentage. He was selected as head coach in both the Blue-Gray and
East-West Shrine games.
Known for his creative, multidimensional offenses, Elway was
inducted into the Cal State-Northridge Athletic Hall of Fame in
1997. He was inducted into San Jose State's Ring of Honor in 1998,
joining a group that included Dick Vermeil, Bill Walsh and Steve
He also was coach of the Frankfurt Galaxy in the World League
(1991-92) and scouted for the New York Jets in 1990.
He spent seven years in the Broncos' scouting department
(1993-99), the last five as director of pro scouting, and
subsequently served the team as a scouting consultant until his
Besides his son, Elway is survived by his wife, Jan; daughters
Lee Ann and Jana; and eight grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in Palm Springs on April 24.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
|Jack Elway is shown in this May 2, 1999 photo listening to son John announce his NFL retirement.|
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