By Erik Schmidt
Erik Schmidt, 24, grew up in Maple Valley and attended Western Washington University. He grew up an avid Seattle sports fan. His father still doesn’t like John Eway.
I was brought up to despise the Denver Broncos. More specifically, John Elway.
My dad was never a big fan of Elway. I was told it all started when Elway threatened that if the Baltimore Colts drafted him he would play pro baseball instead pro football. My Dad saw that as snobbish, and said that if you were truly a high-class player, you would succeed with whatever team called your number.The Seahawks playing Denver twice a year when they were in the AFC West only added to the disdain for Elway in my household. Back then, I accepted but never fully understood the dislike for Elway.
But that all changed in 2004.
I was 14 years old and on vacation with my family to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. My whole family was out to dinner in 2004, and I remember seeing John Elway across the restaurant. I pointed this out to my family, and my Dad and brother-in-law confirmed that it was Elway, the Denver quarterback.
My family deliberated as to whether I should go over and ask for his autograph. I didn’t leave until Dad gave me the nod of approval.
Walking over to Elway’s table, pen and paper in hand, I felt butterflies in my stomach. He was sitting at a tall, skinny table, having a drink with a girl who was closer to my age than his.
“Excuse me,” I started.
John Elway turned and looked down at me.
“Is your name John?” I asked through a nervous, braces-filled smile.
He exhaled. “No,” he shot back, clearly annoyed.
Then he turned away from me.
I solemnly walked back to my chair. My sisters and mother wanted to know what happened. I shared the story with them. Dad was not surprised.
We still talk about that day at family holidays. My buddies all know the story of when John Elway snubbed me for an autograph. It’s one of those stories that I will carry forever.
My Dad was right all along. Elway was a snob. Or, as Dad liked to describe him: “the south end of a northbound horse.”
Come Sunday, I would like nothing more than to watch the Seahawks beat the Broncos and see the fat chin of Elway’s quiver when the camera pans to his suite as we are in victory formation.
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