The Denver Broncos' hiring of John Elway to run their football operations smelled like a public-relations move when it was first announced before the 2011 season. The Broncos were struggling, and what would appease fans more than bringing back the city's biggest celebrity?
But with Elway calling the shots, the Broncos went from 4-12 in 2010 to 8-8 in 2011. They now sit at 6-3 and are running away with the AFC West.
Elway has made unpopular decisions: dumping Tim Tebow.
He has signed top-flight free agents: Peyton Manning.
He has re-signed talent on the roster: Champ Bailey.
He has hit on draft picks: Von Miller.
USA Today asked former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi why Elway has succeeded where many other former stars failed.
"Certain players that play with their eyes open. They don't have tunnel vision," Accorsi said. "(Ravens GM) Ozzie (Newsome) used to evaluate my drafts when he was a player. John must have done that, too.
"John, with all his fame, probably had a bigger obstacle to overcome. He had to convince people that, in his own right, he could be a good general manager. Those PR moves don't last very long after the press conference is over. It turns out they knew exactly what they were doing."
Elway wanted to prove to everyone that he could do the job. He understood the circumstance of his hiring.
"My reputation probably had something to do with it," Elway said. "With where the organization was at that time, it needed a little boost, and I'm sure that had a lot to do with it also.
"And then I lacked experience at that level, so they were taking a big step with me, a risk with me."
The risk has paid off thus far. The upgrade from Tebow to Manning played a huge part, but Elway accomplished what several other teams weren't able to do -- sign the future Hall of Famer.
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.