The Broncos’ long and agonizing nightmare finally is over.
To voluminous Broncos’ obsessives, the John Elway-Chris Harris Jr. cash clash was equivalent to The Hundred Years War between the English and the French.
It lasted six whole weeks.
The ordeal ended in a deal Tuesday. Both sides can claim victory.
The amount argued was NFL chump change ($5 million).
Well, pardon me for not going all giddy-up. Despite ill-mannered remarks from Harris and Elway in the course of events, Harris wants to play here, and Elway, wants him to play here, in the present. The media created the mess. I didn’t participate because I knew the disagreement would lead to an agreement.
Chris becomes the highest-paid cornerback in Broncos’ history by getting a $12.05 million “contract adjustment.’’ He can be a free agent next year or sign another pact.
One of the top five cornerbacks and good people in the NFL receives $50,000 more than Kareem Jackson, who, as a veteran free agent, was given a $9 mil signing bonus and will do a pay-for-play for $3 million. But Jackson primarily is working as a safety.
Chris also is provided with a show-up clause — $650,000 for appearing at minicamp Wednesday and another $650,00 for putting on a jersey at training camp. So much for a teeth-cleaning appointment.
As a rookie Chris was compensated with $375,000 after accepting a $2,000 signing bonus. At the completion of his ninth season, Harris, 30 in June, will have earned more than $52 million.
Don’t cry for Chris, Colorado.
And the Broncos again possess a pro-worthy defensive backfield with two new additions and Harris.
The last member of the fabled “No-Fly Zone’ secondary does not follow Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart and Bradley Roby in flight — yet.
Harris was not the first renowned Denver Broncos’ player to demand a renegotiated contract. Five former exceptional running backs and an NFL defensive Player of the Year insisted on “adjustment contracts.’’
Carlton Chester “Cookie” Gilchrist’’ was the first in 1966.
Once referred to as the Jim Brown of the AFL with the Bills, he pleaded to be the league’s highest-paid players. Rather, Buffalo traded him to the Broncos in 1965. He led the AFC in rushing attempts (252) for 954 yards and refused to report the next season unless the Broncos increased his contract from $59,000.
“And he wanted a Cadillac,’’ Allan Phipps, who owned the Broncos with his brother Gerald, told me years later.
Cookie wouldn’t crumble, and the Broncos suspended him until October, then sent him to the Dolphins.
Since then, Broncos’ running backs Bobby Humphrey, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and even Terrell Davis pursued renegotiations.
Humphrey, picked No. 1 by the Broncos in a special supplement draft in 1989, was sensational for two seasons — rushing for 2,353 yards. However, in 1991, he walked out of the first day of camp and demanded an increase to the remaining two years of his contract ($315,000 per). Humphrey’s holdout lasted 97 days. He crawled back, rushed for 33 yards in four games and was dealt to the Dolphins.
After running for 1,508 yards in his first season, Portis threatened to stay away from camp unless his contract was enhanced. Mike Shanahan wasn’t listening. Portis gave up and rushed for 1,591 yards, but Shanahan, still bitter, exchanged him for Washington cornerback Champ Bailey.
Late in his career (2011) McGahee arrived in Denver to rush for 1,199 yards. His four-year, $9.5 mil pact wasn’t sufficient. The Broncos denied his request. His rushing total fell to 731, and he was finished with the Broncos.
Davis was the Super Bowl’s MVP in 1997. Without missing a beat when Terrell asked for more money, owner Pat Bowlen rewarded him with a nine-year, $56.1M package. Davis rewarded the Broncos with 2,008 yards. But, because of a horrific knee injury, Terrell played in just 17 games from 1999-2001.
Lyle Alzado — defensive Player of the Year in 1977 when the Broncos reached their first Super Bowl, was going broke with his $90,000 salary in ’79 because the Cherry Creek restaurant that bore his name (several yards from where John Elway’s is today) suffered severe financial troubles, and the fierce (steroid-aided) defensive end was not was paid $100,000 promised for an exhibition fight with ex-champ Muhammad Ali. Lyle put up his house as collateral for the flop that drew 11,000 to Mile High Stadium.
A week later before camp, Alzado met with Broncos general manager Fred Gehrke, stating he would quit and become a professional boxer if his salary wasn’t boosted from $90,000 to $200,000.
“We don’t renegotiate contracts,’’ Gehrke said.
Gehrke traded Alzado to the Browns for three draft picks.
So, glory be to Elway and Harris for resolving the latest contract adjustment.