The Denver Broncos seem infatuated with the sons and nephews of former Super Bowl quarterbacks.
Brett Rypien becomes the fourth of that category.
But it’s all relative.
Brian Griese was first. Dad Bob was starting quarterback in two championship games. Griese The Younger was selected by the Broncos in the third round of 1998’s draft to possibly become John Elway’s air apparent. Brian did start 51 games in an injury-laden span of six years with the Broncos, but never started a playoff game.
Next was Chris Simms, signed as a veteran free agent in Denver in 2009. The son of Phil, MVP in the Super Bowl XXI victory over the Broncos, started one game before being dumped.
The third was Chad Kelly, the nephew of four-time Super Bowl starter Jim Kelly. After sitting out a season with injuries, “Mr. Irrelevant’’ was elevated to backup last year and likely would have started before season’s end if he hadn’t become “Mr. Inconsequential.’’
I asked Rypien how familiar he was with Kelly and his episode of 2018.
“Not very,’’ he replied.
Rypien is the fourth with a QB kin connection to join the Broncos. His uncle is Mark Rypien, Super Bowl 26 MVP as Washington’s quarterback.
The Broncos signed Brett as an undrafted free agent to a three-year, $1.765-million contract, although only $146,000 in the first season is guaranteed.
According to his agent, Kyle McCarthy, Brett chose the Broncos over 10 other offers. McCarthy knows. The ex-Notre Dame safety was an undrafted free agent with the Broncos in 2010-11, but suffered a pair of knee injuries.
The Cowboys — whose former reserve quarterback and new offensive coordinator, is Kellen Moore, Rypien’s predecessor at Boise State — obviously were trying to grab him. Rypien surpassed Moore’s Washington state prep records and eclipsed the all-time Mountain West Conference passing yardage mark (13,578). Known in Boise as “Mr. Deliver,’’ Rypien threw 90 touchdown passes.
He didn’t even have to change nickname monogram on his towels.
“Honestly, I didn’t even think about being a ‘Bronco’ again until it was official. He still wears the No. 4 jersey. Guess who else was a “4”? Another Brett. This Brett was born in July 1996, six months before That Brett was Super Bowl MVP with the Packers.
“Brett Rypien’’ is a quarterback name. But, does he have their quarterback game?
I asked Brett if he wants a “mentor,’’ a topic of controversial conversation lately at Broncos’ OTAs. He got my drift. “I’ve read about that,’’ Rypien said with a chortle. “My main job is to learn and absorb as much as I can from everybody, especially from coach (Rich) Scangarello (offensive coordinator) and (quarterbacks) coach (T.C.) McCartney. I have to prove I belong here.’’
Rypien was convinced to continue as a Broncos’ quarterback based on his NFL combine meeting with Scangarello, the Broncos’ interest in him since they interviewed at the East-West Shrine game, and the tradition of Broncos Super Bowls and quarterbacks Elway and Peyton Manning.
However, he is the four man on a match — behind Flacco, Kevin Hogan and Drew Lock.
Lock and Rypien have been inseparable, but not insufferable with each other. “We live close in the hotel and come to the facility together. I’m around him almost all the time. We’re helping each other.’’
The actual mentor for Brett was Uncle Mark. “Almost from the time I started playing football in the fourth grade he gave me advice and worked with my fundamentals.’’ They starred at the same high school in Spokane, Wash., 30 years apart. Mark’s number was retired in three sports. Brett was the valedictorian (4.0), but graduated early to enroll at Boise State and participate in spring practice.
He was redshirted as a freshman. But in the Broncos’ third game, starter Ryan Finley was taken away with a broken ankle. Brett suddenly was active and in. He led the Broncos to four straight scores. The next Saturday, at Virginia, Brett started.
“Mark was there for me and calmed me down.’’ The Broncos averaged 50 points in Brett’s first three starts. Finley, who transferred to North Carolina State after the season, was selected in the fourth round of the recent draft by the Bengals. Meanwhile, Brett spent three draft days in a nightmare rather than a dream. “It turned out great because I got with the team I really wanted to play for.’’
I finished the discussion with the bright, 22-year-old prospect, who will end up with the Broncos as a third or practice squad quarterback by telling him the tale of how once upon a time his uncle almost became a Broncos quarterback.
In the summer of 1991, Denver coach Dan Reeves and Washington coach Joe Gibbs negotiated a bombastic Elway-Rypien exchange. The Broncos were coming off a 5-11 season, and the Reeves-Elway relationship had totally deteriorated. Rypien, the Washington starter, sought a significant raise.
The two coaches were close on a deal.
Pat Bowlen shut down the trade.
That season Washington, 14-2, won the Super Bowl, and Rypien was MVP. The Broncos, 12-4, lost to the Bills in the AFC Championship Game when Elway was injured and three field goals were missed.
NFL history’s course was not changed.
Yet, 28 years later, a Rypien finally has been brought to the Broncos ... by Elway.