In the bronze sculpture game, jaws are cake compared to teeth. And when your subject has two of the most prominent front teeth in NFL history, well, you can imagine the pressure I was feeling when I, uh, tackled John Elway.
He only won back-to-back Super Bowls to crown his 16-year career, threw for more than 51,000 yards and 300 touchdowns and was named to nine Pro Bowls. And then there were those darn teeth.
It's a little nerve-racking, trying to get his likeness, because everyone will be real critical of it. This guy is so visible, people will know right off if you got him or not. And teeth ... teeth are really tough.
Some guys, like Ronnie Lott, you can only see them scowling. John was the opposite. You have to have him smiling. There's no other way.
In the end, how could I be blamed for making those choppers a little larger than life? I had taken measurements in Hawaii and was making some adjustments at Elway's Cherry Hills, Colorado home, when I noticed the quarterback staring intently — right at the mouth.
"Are those teeth right?" Elway asked, almost apologetically. "Man, they look more like Chiclets."
Sure enough, Elway was right. A second measurement revealed that they were too big. About five hours later, everyone was finally was happy with those teeth.
A few months later, I was watching an interview with Elway on television. They showed video of him standing next to his bust and the announcer was saying that the busts never look like the people they're supposed to represent.
"But this guy," the announcer added, "really nailed Elway."
At home in Utah, I jumped out of my chair, exulted and punched the air.