Hall of Famer John Elway has been summoned by the Denver Broncos for one more comeback, this time as the team's chief football executive.
The beloved quarterback who led the Broncos to five Super Bowls and back-to-back championships before retiring in 1999 returned to the team's Dove Valley headquarters Wednesday to begin restoring the franchise's tarnished image and bring back its winning ways.
Team owner Pat Bowlen said he expects Elway to lead the Broncos to more Super Bowls and joked this time, Elway can tell him: "This one's for Pat!"
Elway said he was thrilled to be part of the Broncos again, declaring: "My greatest asset is my competitiveness ... I will give it everything I can to return this team back to the way it was."
Three coaching candidates are in line for interviews: Perry Fewell, Eric Studesville and Mike Mularkey, and Elway said he would call Jim Harbaugh as soon as he got upstairs to his office to try to schedule an interview with Stanford's coach, too.
Elway will interview Mularkey, the Falcons' offensive coordinator, in Atlanta on Friday night before returning to Denver for interviews Sunday with Fewell, the New York Giants' defensive coordinator, and Studesville, who went 1-3 as Denver's interim head coach following Josh McDaniels' Dec. 6 ouster.
Elway's title will be executive vice president of football operations in a reshaped front office, and chief operating officer Joe Ellis becomes team president. Brian Xanders will go from the general manager in name only to one who's empowered in the new organizational chart.
HARBAUGH MEETS WITH 49ERS: Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh was meeting Wednesday with the San Francisco 49ers about their head coach vacancy, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the interview wasn't made public. Harbaugh returned Tuesday night to the Bay Area from a 40-12 Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in Miami that gave the Cardinal a program-best 12-1 record. He now must weigh his options, which appear to be many.
The 49ers formally picked Trent Baalke as their new general manager Tuesday night and he is now looking for the coach to replace Mike Singletary, fired following a 25-17 loss at St. Louis on Dec. 26 that eliminated San Francisco from the playoffs for an eighth straight season. Baalke had been the team's vice president of player personnel since March.
SAINTS LOSE ANOTHER RB: The defending champion Saints will have to try to repeat without their top two power running backs.
Pierre Thomas, one of the stars of last season's Super Bowl run, was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday because of his injured ankle. The Saints made that move only one day after placing leading rusher Chris Ivory on injured reserve because of a left foot injury that occurred during Sunday's regular season finale.
When the Saints (11-5) open the playoffs in Seattle (7-9) on Saturday, the only remaining healthy running backs from their regular season roster will be Reggie Bush and Julius Jones.
PHILLIPS HIRED BY TEXANS: Wade Phillips faces a challenge in fixing the Houston Texans' defense.
Phillips was hired as Houston's new defensive coordinator on Wednesday, assigned to revamp a unit that dropped to the bottom of the league this season.
The former Dallas Cowboys coach joins Gary Kubiak's staff two days after the Texans fired defensive coordinator Frank Bush, secondary coach David Gibbs, linebackers coach Johnny Holland and assistant linebackers coach Robert Saleh.
TITANS TO LET GO OF YOUNG: Titans owner Bud Adams says it's time to let Vince Young go and for the franchise to find its next quarterback.
The Titans released a statement Wednesday night in which Adams said Young won't be on the team's roster next season, but he's still evaluating the coaching staff.