If the Kansas City Chiefs winning back-to-back World Championships was cut deep for Denver Broncos fans, seeing John Elway present the Lombardi Trophy to a lifetime rival felt like a knife in the back. After the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII, the NFL trotted out two Hall-of-Famers — Larry Csonka and Elway — to relay the Lombardi Trophy up to the podium.
Csonka's inclusion commemorated 50 years since he was named Super Bowl MVP with the Miami Dolphins, while it marked 25 years since Elway won the same award. That explains why Elway was there as the No. 2 relay runner, handing the Lombardi Trophy to Broncos Country's most hated rival.
The reactions to the now infamous images of Elway delivering the Lombardi to the Chiefs were immediate. Suffice to say, it pained Broncos Country to see the Duke of Denver as Kansas City's errand boy.
This better mean that the Broncos curse is over. Otherwise this is the photo I will be forced to look at in hell for all eternity pic.twitter.com/HhfL4dPPbb— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) February 12, 2024
John Elway — forever the face of the @broncos —having to hand the Lombardi trophy to the Chiefs is something out of a medieval torture chamber.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) February 12, 2024
Why you do me like that NFL?
The last time John Elway touched a Lombardi, he cursed his team for 7 years.— Big Mike || Greg Dulcich’s #1 Fan (@DulcichMuse) February 12, 2024
Maybe he’s on to something.
The people getting their panties I a bunch about Elway delivering the Lombardi, don't really get it. Football, nfl, vegas...is all about money, they will lose for money, win for money, sell out for money, do and say what they are told all for money. It's a business and big one…— KR (@misskristie78) February 12, 2024
Chiefs fans couldn't resist the "cherry on top" of Elway presenting their team with the trophy.
John Elway having to deliver the Chiefs Lombardi Trophy is the cherry on top. pic.twitter.com/IWcdZNLKFy— KC Chiefs Blog (@KCChiefsBlog) February 12, 2024
As a Hall-of-Famer and NFL icon, perhaps Elway is above the concerns of mere mortals and the symbolism of a Broncos icon handing the Chiefs a Lombardi Trophy on national television. And it's not like Elway could control that coincidence of Kansas City winning it all on the 25-year anniversary of the Broncos winning Super Bowl XXXIII and him being named MVP.
This is my measured take after the initial shock of this spectacle wore off. In the moment, I was a bit more emotional about it.
But Broncos fans the world over are wishing that Elway hadn't answered the phone when the NFL called to ask for his participation in this cringe-fest. He's already dealing with legacy issues in the wake of his post-Super Bowl 50 record as the Broncos' top football executive.
This won't help Elway's image in Bronco-land, especially after he failed to defeat the Chiefs even once after Peyton Manning hung up his cleats. Hopefully, this won't diminish all of Elway's accomplishments with and on behalf of the Broncos.
All three of Denver's Lombardi Trophies have Elway's fingerprints on them, as do seven of the team's eight Super Bowl appearances. But the sting of this now infamously iconic moment in Las Vegas will linger within the zeitgeist of the Broncos-Chiefs ongoing rivalry.
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