ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Year after year, the goal out of Dove Valley is the same: championship or bust.
Under Pat Bowlen, the Broncos have been one of the most successful franchises in the NFL for the last 33 years. However, each season is judged by whether the Lombardi Trophy is brought back to the Mile High City in late January or the beginning of February.
After decades of this talk, the message has almost become cliché, and this offseason is no different.
Since Jan. 2, during Gary Kubiak’s retirement press conference that doubled as the season-ending press conference, John Elway reiterated the high goals for this organization for 2017 and the message has trickled down to every member of the organization.
With the repetitive nature of this dialogue, Broncos Country has become numb to these high aspirations on a yearly basis. However, although it might seem hard to believe, the year-in-and-year-out championship aspirations are not common around the rest of the league.
“In [Cincinnati] we were always talking about ‘I want to win a playoff game, I want to win a playoff game,’ but over here we are talking about winning championships,” first-year Bronco and 12-year NFL veteran Domata Peko said. “That’s what brought me here. I want to win a championship.”
It’s not as if Peko is coming from a team that has consistently been at the bottom of the standings, either. In his 11 seasons with Cincinnati, the Bengals made the playoffs six times and won the competitive AFC North three of those times. In fact, before last season, the Bengals had a winning record and made the playoffs their previous five seasons, yet the talk of the town was still to win just one singular playoff game.
The talk of winning championships in Denver isn’t just banter to the media. When asked what was the most important thing that coach Vance Joseph has said in the team meetings so far through the team’s offseason workout program, Peko pointed directly to this mentality.
“What I got out of it, what I hear from him, was just going out and trying to be your best every day, but not only that but, like I said earlier, about winning championships,” he said. “That’s what really caught my attention here—coming out every day to work, and if you want to win a championship you got to act like a champion, you’ve got to practice like a champion and come to work every day like a champion.”
That championship mindset was what put Denver as Peko’s landing spot during free agency.
“I still have that hunger,” he said on Tuesday during phase two of the Broncos’ offseason workout program. “I want to get a ring. I want to win a championship. That’s what keeps me going.”
With slogans plastered around the facility such as “Truth,” “Iron sharpens iron, like man sharpens man” and “Be the master of your attitude,” Joseph has put accountability on each player’s shoulders. However, the goal is set at the top of the organization and made very clear year-in-and-year-out, which apparently is not the norm around the country.