Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/25/13
Mike Shanahan deserves some Rocky Mountain Thunder. When he leads the Washington Redskins into Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday Broncos fans should stand and cheer — long and loud. Shanahan wasn't perfect during his Denver tenure but he was a great coach — a championship coach — and he deserves some hometown love. In our instant-gratification what-have-you-done-for-me-lately culture Shanahan's star has faded. It's been 15 years since the Broncos flirted with perfection during the 1998 season and went on to win their second consecutive Super Bowl. It's been nearly five years since owner Pat Bowlen fired Shanahan after the 2008 season. As Denver Post Broncos beat writer Mike Klis noted the other day Shanahan won only one playoff game in the 10 years after his "Mastermind" run from 1997-98. In his three-plus seasons with the Redskins Shanahan has a 23-31 record and one playoff loss on his resume. It's become popular around these parts to dismiss the "Mastermind" as a has-been. I've heard all the arguments that try to debunk what "Shanny" accomplished. He couldn't win a playoff game without John Elway. He was a bad judge of talent and had too many bad drafts. He was a control freak. He was too stubborn. Many critics use those arguments with hindsight as their road map. But the truth is Shanahan was the right man at the right time for the Broncos. At the end of his career Elway needed Shanahan as much as Shanahan needed Elway. It was Shanahan (with the help of Gary Kubiak) who drafted Terrell Davis in the sixth round and turned T.D. into a running back worthy of the Hall of Fame. It was Shanahan (with the help of offensive line coach Alex Gibbs) who developed the zone-blocking scheme that carved up NFL defenses. It was Shanahan who trusted his gut and gave Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey their chances and then helped turn them into stars. I'm not saying Shanahan was infallible. I covered the Broncos during their glory years and I was there during that awful 1999 season when T.D. blew out his knee and Shanahan chose Brian Griese over Bubby Brister alienating many of the veterans on the team. I was aghast when he wasted a third-round draft pick on Maurice Clarett in 2005. I realize he picked players such as Willie Middlebrooks (2001) and Jarvis Moss (2007) in the first round.
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