ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Three times during his Hall of Fame playing career, John Elway slogged through the rubble of a Super Bowl landslide.
Forty-eight hours after Denver's devastating 43-8 defeat by Seattle in this year's Super Bowl, the Broncos' boss was asked how long it took him to get over those big blowouts.
"I'm not over them yet," Elway said. "I just add this one to it."
Elway understands Broncos fans are struggling to come to grips with just how the highest-scoring team in league history self-destructed and five-time MVP Peyton Manning managed but a single touchdown against the Seahawks.
"It was a great year," Elway said. "We came up short, but it wasn't due to lack of effort or lack of want-to. We didn't play very well two days ago. I know that's what everybody is disappointed about. We're disappointed about it, players are disappointed. But, it was a hell of a year. We went through a lot of different things, but I'm proud of the team."
After the Broncos' crushing loss to the Ravens in last year's playoffs, Elway created what Manning called an "uncomfortable atmosphere" around Dove Valley. Elway is promising to navigate this offseason with the notion that this Super Bowl loss will drive Denver to next year's Super Bowl.
"The bottom line is we're going to work as hard as we worked this year, if not harder, and continue to do that with the mindset that we want to be world champions and we're going to do everything we can to get there."
Coach John Fox told his players to leave with their heads held high.
"I know there is disappointment," Fox said. "It will take a while to go away for all of us, but at the end of the day, it was a successful season: 15-4 is not real shabby."
FITZGERALD SLIMS CAP HIT: Larry Fitzgerald says he has restructured his contract with the Cardinals, reducing a big salary-cap hit from his old deal and creating room for signing other players. Fitzgerald announced the move via his Twitter account. Under his old deal, Fitzgerald would have earned $12.75 million next season and counted $18 million on the cap. Fitzgerald is on his third contract in his 10 seasons. He caught 82 passes for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
GRUDEN FILLS STAFF: Redskins coach Jay Gruden has filled the final spots on his coaching staff. Bradford Banta has been hired as the assistant special teams coach, Shane Day as assistant offensive line and offensive quality control coach, and Jake Peetz as offensive quality control coach. Aubrey Pleasant is retained as defensive quality control coach.