Jack Elway and His Impact on Football

posted by Chris Valentine

Photo by CC user Mike Hoff on Flickr.

When one hears the name Elway, they would immediately think of football, the success of the great Jack Elway and his son and grandson have firmly cemented the Elway family name into the world of football. John ‘Jack’ Elway Snr. and his son have been involved in multiple SuperBowl wins and have been involved in some of the most important teams in NFL history. Today we are going to take a deeper look into the beginnings and the successes of Jack Elway and his involvement NFL franchise, the Denver Broncos.

Jack Elway’s Life and Career

The man at the head of the Elway dynasty is John ‘Jack’ Elway, born in 1931 in Hoquiam, Washington. His football life started out early and when he was at the local high school, Elway began playing as quarterback under then-head coach, Jack Swarthout, a man who Elway would later work alongside. After high school, Elway headed to Washington State College where he would gain both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Elway continued to play as quarterback during his time at Washington State but his career was sadly cut short by a knee injury from which he never recovered.

Elway wasn’t done with football yet though and went straight into the World of coaching, he began his coaching career at Port Angeles High School before heading to a junior college in Aberdeen in southwestern Washington. Elway’s name was on the lips of many schools and colleges following his successes and in the 1967 season, he would join his former coach Swarthout a the University of Montana as assistant coach. After a 5 year stint with the ‘Grizzlies,’ Elway went on t be assistant head coach in Idaho before taking on his first head coaching position in Division II in southern California.

Head Coaching

Elway’s first head coaching position was in Cal State Northridge where he stayed for 3 years before being offered a role in the first division with San Jose State. By this time, Elway’s ‘spread offensive’ tactic was becoming a highly effective strategy that had people noticing Elway’s knowledge of the game and his ability to break teams down. San Jose saw strong success under Elway particularly against Stanford University where his son, John was playing at the time as starting quarterback. Jack would get his highest head coaching role at that very same university and coached Stanford for five seasons, during his time there he boasted a record of 25-29-2.

Elway’s final head coaching position came in the World League with Frankfurt Galaxy from 1991-1993, he was their first head coach and worked alongside Swarthout once again during this time.


Elway’s knowledge of the game was recognized by the Denver Broncos and he was hired in 1993 to be their director of pro-scouting, a position which he held up until 1999 and his retirement. During this time the Broncos won 2 Super Bowls and Elway was given much credit for the players which he picked up.

Elway unfortunately died in 2001 at the age of 69 following a heart attack in his home.

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