Old Heroes, New Hope (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

Can a former hero come back to a team and turn things around.


It's happening in Colorado right now for two top teams.

The Denver Broncos lived their glory days on the arm of hall-of-famer John Elway.  He won two Superbowls in a row, then quit while he was on top.  The Broncos haven't been the same since.  We all knew they wouldn't be right away, but it's been a lot of years now, and a lot of losses lately.

There is hope now that as the VP of Football Operations Elway can somehow bring back a little of the old Lucky 7 Elway magic.

Up the road in Boulder it's a similar story. The Buffs have been bad for a while. The last time they were really bad and started to turn things around was in the early to mid 1980's. 

Jon Embree was a tight-end for the team then.  He's back now as the head coach.  Just after his time as a CU player, the Buffs got even better!  Also back now as offensive coordinator is one of the Buffs' biggest heroes ever.

Eric Bieniemy is CU's all time leader in rushing yards and all-purpose yards.  He was an All-American in 1990...the year CU won its only national championship. How about getting some of THAT magic back in his second stint on the CU staff.

There's another similar story brewing across the Atlantic.  Over the weekend, one-time English Premier League powerhouse Liverpool changed coaches. After about half a soccer season man named Roy Hodgson left the team by "mutual agreement" with its American owners.  We all know what that means.  Brought in to replace him was a man named Kenny Dalglish. 


He's a Liverpool legend, one of the team's top goal-scorers ever. From 1977 through the late 80's, with Kenny Dalglish on the prowl, Liverpool won their domestic league 7 times and the prestigious European Cup (a tournament of all the best teams from all the European nations) a remarkable three times.

He then went on to be a player/manager for a time, then just the manager. Liverpool had tremendous success under his sideline leadership too.  Now he's back to try to duplicate what he did back then.

Is there something about these special players that can make their mere presence with a former team re-kindle a fire?  Is there something so magical about their past that it can help inspire players in the present, and the future?  As fans we like to believe that there is.

The one thing they all have going for them is that they all really, really care about the teams they're now trying to help.  That could go a long way.  Our memories of what they did are so cherished that we assume they can't possibly fail.  There's a good chance they will.  It took all of those teams a long time to reach the lowly positions they now occupy - lowly by their own normally high standards.

In the formula for success on the field, a kind of magic isn't really in the mix...but as fans we somehow hope it makes a difference. 

These are three of my favorite teams, period. I hope the mojo works for all three. 

I'd settle for two.

How about just one? 

We'll find out by the end of the year for the Buffs and Broncos..by the end of the month at Liverpool. So..."Go Broncos", "Go Buffs"..and "come on you Reds!"  Let's see if old heroes can make some new memories!

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward


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