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Broncos promote Xanders to GM, fire two front office executives

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Brian Xanders, who begged every NFL team for a job after graduating from Florida State, was promoted to general manager of the Denver Broncos on Thursday.

Xanders, a former walk-on middle linebacker, joined the Broncos on May 5 after 14 seasons in the Atlanta Falcons organization. He served as assistant general manager in Denver along with Jeff Goodman, whose father, Jim, was the Broncos' vice president of football operations.

Both the Goodmans were fired when Xanders was promoted.

When owner Pat Bowlen fired coach Mike Shanahan on Dec. 30, he decided not to give his new coach as much power and said he would search for a general manager after finding his new coach.

Upon hiring Josh McDaniels as Shanahan's replacement, Bowlen said his GM was already in house -- presumably Jim Goodman. But Bowlen changed his mind and decided Xanders was the man best suited to lead the Broncos back to the postseason after three straight seasons out of the playoffs and just one playoff victory in the decade since Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway's retirement.

"In evaluating the work of our football operations department over the past several weeks, it has become clear to me that Brian Xanders is the right person to step into our general manager's job," Bowlen said in a statement. "I am confident he will work in tandem with head coach Josh McDaniels to re-establish our football team at the level we desire."

Xanders, 38, didn't immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press but said in a statement that his promotion was bittersweet: "This appointment comes with unfortunate circumstances as I have enjoyed working with Jim and Jeff over the last year. Nevertheless, I am humbled by this opportunity and accept it as a great challenge on behalf of our fans, our community, Mr. Bowlen and the organization.

"I am excited to work together with Coach McDaniels and put our collective resources into winning football games."

McDaniels thanked the Goodmans for their contributions and said he was excited for Xanders and looked forward to "working with him hand-in-hand well into the future."

Xanders, who negotiated some of Denver's bigger contracts last season, is now in charge of all player personnel issues, including college scouting, pro personnel and labor negotiations with the Broncos.

Xanders graduated from Florida State with a bachelor's degree in business management and a master's degree in business administration. He was on four bowl-winning teams with Bobby Bowden's Seminoles.

In 14 seasons in Atlanta, he worked with the Falcons in a variety of capacities, including player personnel, coaching, salary cap management, information technology and business management.

Xanders said in an interview with The AP last year that he sent resumes to every NFL team and was rejected at least three times by all of them until finally landing a job for $19,000 a year working as assistant general manager at the Falcons Sports Complex, a sports health club that was open to the public and his ticket to the NFL.

"I was changing light bulbs, scrubbing toilets and cleaning racquetball courts, and then they made me GM three months later of the Falcons Sports Complex," Xanders said.

Two years later, he taught himself databases and began working in information technology by day and helping the coaching staff put together tape in the night. That led to a job as the Falcons' defensive quality control assistant in 1997. He was a member of the Falcons' coaching staff on their 1998 Super Bowl team, which lost to the Broncos.

Shanahan hired Xanders last year to assist the Goodmans in the front office following the firing of GM Ted Sundquist.

Asked if he aspired one day to be a general manager of an NFL team, Xanders told The AP: "I just want to win. That's first. I'm just fortunate to be here and have that opportunity to win. That's what's primary for me. I have high expectations for the team. Down the road, whatever happens, happens."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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