ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It is often a rite of spring for the Broncos.
After a new player signs with the team, he inevitably says John Elway was one of his favorite childhood players. Over and over again, newly minted Broncos have trotted out Elway memories, usually from games during the back-to-back championship seasons (1998-99).
Running back Jamaal Charles, signed on Tuesday, joined the parade this week.
“I always wanted to play with Denver,” Charles said shortly after he had signed his one-year deal. “Growing up, John Elway was my favorite player. I just like the environment, the team and the organization. I wanted to be a part of it.”
But this time there’s proof. Former Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, a teammate of Charles’ at the University of Texas, posted an old photo on Twitter Thursday of Charles sporting a classic Elway jersey of the ’80s orange vintage.
Finley wrote that Charles “always loved the Broncos.”
— Jermichael Finley (@JermichaelF88) May 4, 2017
Charles, who played nine seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, has had plenty of contact with the Broncos given the twice-a-year meetings in the AFC West. But Elway had been officially retired as a player for seven years when Charles was a junior at Texas — his last season for the Longhorns.
Charles made it fairly clear Tuesday he has moved on from Kansas City, where he had five 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He played just three games last year because of knee troubles as the Chiefs went 12-4 without him in the lineup.
“It’s behind me now, I really don’t even want to talk about that,” Charles said. “I love the organization and love the team. At the end of the day, it’s a business, but it’s also personal as well. It is what it is. At the end of the day, they let me go and I’m not there. I’m starting a new chapter and I’m happy with my new chapter, really.”
Asked this week if it would be strange to face the Chiefs in the coming season, Charles said, “Nope. It’s just a different jersey. It’s just with a different organization. At the same time, [I’m] going after the same goals.”
The Broncos will play Oct. 30 in Arrowhead Stadium and then close out the regular season Dec. 31 against the Chiefs in Denver.
“I’m just happy I get to play them twice a year,” Charles added with a laugh. “I’ll just leave it like that. I’ll let those two games speak for themselves. At the end of the day, I love my teammates. I wish them the best. I know they wish me the best too. At the end of the day, it’s about how we can feed our families. I’m here with the Broncos.”