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Woody Paige: Gary Kubiak stays true to Denver and Texas roots

July 25, 2017 Updated: July 26, 2017 at 7:29 am
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Famous author Thomas Wolfe never met football lifer Gary Kubiak.

Kubiak goes home, and to his other home, over and over, again and again, and all over again.

Welcome back, Koob.

Kubiak has spent 53 of his 55 years in Denver, Houston and College Station (Texas).

Man's in a rut, and he loves it right there.

John Elway's first decision after signing a five-year extension to continue as head of Broncos' football operations was to rehire his friend, teammate, coordinator and coach as senior personnel consultant.

Elway and Kubiak have bonded for the third time in 35 years.

Gary's great grandfather Michal immigrated from Poznan, Poland, in the 1880s and settled near College Station, where a new school had been established, in the small town of Bremond - "Polish Capital of Texas.''

One of Michal Kubiak's 13 children moved to Houston in 1918 and became a baker and married a woman who also was of Polish descent.

Their son was Gary's father.

Gary was born in Houston on Aug. 15, 1961. After developing into a talented high school quarterback, Kubiak returned to his family's roots - playing at Texas A&M (an hour and a half from Houston).

In 1983 he was drafted by the Broncos in the sixth round, and expected to have a chance soon or someday to become the team's starting quarterback.

Soon, though, Elway was acquired in an all-time Big Deal. Kubiak started five games in nine NFL seasons.

Elway was "The Comeback Kid,'' but Kubiak is "The Return Man.''

Following retirement in 1991, Gary returned to Texas A&M, where he had been nicknamed "Koob,'' as running back coach for two seasons. Then he joined former Broncos' assistant coach Mike Shanahan as the offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach duo with the 49ers.

They returned to Denver as head coach-offensive coordinator in 1995, and won two Super Bowls with Elway.

In January 1999, Kubiak informally agreed to become the Colorado Buffaloes' coach, but, almost immediately, backed off the decision because the Broncos still were in the playoffs.

In 2006 guess where Kubiak went?

Houston - as Texans' head coach.

Near the end of the 2013 season, and after suffering what was described as a "mini-stroke,'' Kubiak was fired.

He then signed as the Ravens' offensive coordinator.

On Jan. 18, 2015, Kubiak returned to the Broncos as Elway's only choice for head coach. They won another Super Bowl.

On Jan. 1, 2017, on the last day of a substandard, non-playoff season, during which Kubiak experienced another serious medical issue, Kubiak announced he was leaving the Broncos to take time away from the game.

He left his luxurious Greenwood Village high-rise condo and returned once more to the Kubiak ranch in Houston.

Everyone, including probably Kubiak himself, believed he would spend a year recovering and relaxing, then perhaps take a position in the Texas A&M athletic department, or possibly accept an executive or coordinator's offer from the 49ers and coach Kyle Shanahan, who had served as Kubiak's offensive coordinator with the Texans, and is the son of Mike.

It was assumed that the Kubiak Connection with the Broncos finally ended after 22 seasons as player, assistant, coordinator, head coach.

Wrong!

Kubiak's successor with the Broncos had been an assistant under Kubiak in Houston. Vance Joseph and his former mentor have been communicating frequently, presumably about players and staff, since the protégé assumed control.

Lo. And. Behold.

Less than seven months after "retiring'' from the Broncos, Kubiak has returned for his fourth stint with the franchise. Pat Bowlen, who arrived in Denver a year after Elway and Kubiak, would be amazed.

Obviously, rumors and reports of a Kubiak-Elway fallout were totally erroneous. They are not Simon and Garfunkel. And Gary must be feeling strong and healthy.

Kubiak is suited perfectly for his new role with the Broncos. He was The Reluctant Head Coach, even in the Super Bowl season, and didn't care much for all the non-football detail work and public scrutiny - Gary Conserviak? - preferred being a coordinator, and loves evaluating players, especially collegians.

Kubiak discovered Terrell Davis and Trevor Siemian, and others. If he can uncover an exceptional draft pick in the sixth or seventh rounds, or an undrafted free agent, Kubiak will become a significant contributor to the Broncos yet again.

And, now, Kubiak can spend a season in both his hometowns in Texas and Colorado.

Shane didn't come back, but Koob did.

Good for Gary, great for the Broncos.

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