MF: What are some of the things that the average guy doesn’t know about life in the NFL?
JE: There is just so much to it. There’s the glory on Sundays, but getting prepared to play on Sunday takes tons of time. Not only in learning the offensive system and the defensive system, but also in the hours spent in the weight room in the off-season. Even during the season, we spend hours studying a game plan; there’s a new one each week. Everybody gets dinged up, so you have to spend two, three hours a day in the training room.
We can all imagine the glory, as you call it, but what’s the worst part about playing in the NFL?
Having to play hurt. That’s no fun—you want to enjoy the game. It’s tough as is, but it’s especially difficult with a significant injury, trying to battle through that. When you know you’re going into a game and you’re not at your best, but you still want to succeed—that was always the most difficult thing.
What was the strangest experience you ever had with fans?
Going to Oakland [to play the Raiders] and seeing those guys down in the end zone. They paint themselves and have the spikes. They’re crazy. But I don’t know that anything really surprised me. The craziness just became normal, because they’re all so crazy about their favorite teams and players.
Did you ever think you’d wind up where you are today?
I did, but I often sit here and think about high school and college and really early in my career and some of those difficulties. I went to five Super Bowls. I went through a lot of stuff, but things are really good. That’s why this campaign that Dove is doing is perfect for me now because I’m very comfortable in my skin.
You’re currently EVP of football operations for the Broncos. What’s the biggest challenge now, with Peyton coming in as QB?
Tim [Tebow]’s strength was definitely running the football—he’s a tough guy—but Peyton’s got 14 years of experience and ability. You’re going to see more balance from us this year; to win championships you have to strive for balance. You have to be able to run and to throw. When you’re playing, you’re a piece of a puzzle. As an executive, you’re trying to put the puzzle pieces together. It’s competitive, and you get the chance to be part of a team again.