Thank You Coach Kubiak

"I love the fans... They were good to me as a player, good to me as a coach." — Gary Kubiak

On Monday Broncos' head coach Gary Kubiak made official what had first come to light on Sunday, that he is, indeed, retiring as coach of the Denver Broncos. It ends a tenure of two seasons as head coach — one that brought a Super Bowl title last season — but more than 20 years as a part of the Broncos' family.

My first memory of Kubiak was as a player. I've been a Broncos fan since the 1980s. When I first remember Kubiak, it was him as the back up quarterback to John Elway. That's where his friendship with Elway first formed.

After he retired, Kubiak went to work for Mike Shanahan. First in San Francisco with the 49ers, where he helped them win a Super Bowl. Then in Denver, where he was quarterback coach to his former teammate, Elway, and offensive coordinator. That regime produced the first two Super Bowls for the Broncos in 1998 and 1999.

Kubiak eventually left the Broncos to head to Houston for his first head coaching job. But two years ago, when his friend Elway called, he agreed to return to the Broncos, this time as head coach.

For those of us who have been long-time fans, it was a great moment. And seeing Kubiak and Elway together, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy together in February was magical.

But this season, it never quite worked. And Kubiak's health — which first became a concern following a sideline stroke in 2013 — was again a topic of discussion. And Kubiak made clear on Monday, amid his tearful thank yous and memories, that it was his healthy that no longer allowed him to be the coach he wanted to be. So he was stepping away.

"For the first time I've had to tell myself, 'Hey, you can't do that anymore,'" he said. And that led to him walking away.

It's a sad day for the Broncos, and one that leads to plenty of hard questions about the future — beginning with who will lead this team. But for now, all we can do is say thanks to coach Kubiak for all his years of service, and for the three titles he helped to bring to the Broncos.


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