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John Elway gets behind fourth-quarter drive for Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court bid

March 20, 2017 Updated: March 20, 2017 at 1:31 pm
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Patrick Smyth, the Denver Broncos' vice president of public relations, has confirmed that Elway sent the letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, Denver Bronco John Elway threw in his support for the Coloradan on Broncos letterhead.

The letter was addressed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"A native of Colorado, Neil has demonstrated tremendous intelligence, character and fairness while serving more than a decade on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit," wrote the former quarterback turned general manager and executive vice president for football.

"His credentials, integrity and sound moral compass are major reasons why he has already received so much bipartisan support for the nomination."

The letter was written on Denver Broncos letterhead. But Patrick Smyth, the Broncos' vice president of public relations, said in a Tuesday afternoon tweet that the letter was a personal statement from Elway, and that "his endorsement is independent of the Denver Broncos."

The messaging from Elway comes at a time when the NFL has become increasingly politicized, a sign of the divisive climate in America.

Teams have grappled with messaging as players, including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, used the NFL spotlight during the past season to protest wrongdoings against African Americans. Players refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem at games.

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall took a knee during the national anthem last season, a move that the team framed as a "personal decision." Similarly, the team is calling Elway's decision to write a letter in support of Gorsuch "personal."

Elway has dabbled in politics before, supporting conservative candidates and last fall expressing his concern about ColoradoCare and other issues. He has been coy about his interest in future public office, however.

Elway's letter got a shout-out during Monday's hearings, when Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner noted that Gorsuch could be the second Coloradan to serve on the high court, joining Byron White, who was an All-American at the University of Colorado before playing in the NFL.

Gorsuch would be "the only Coloradan serving on the Supreme Court who did not break the NFL rushing record," Gardner said. "But the good news is that he does have the endorsement of No. 7, John Elway, of the great Denver Broncos."

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