Two Broncos Quarterbacks, Sparkling in the Twilight

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BroncosIn an upstairs conference room at the Denver Broncos’ practice complex, John Elway rocked back and forth in his black leather seat and swiveled from side to side. Three days before his Broncos were to play for a berth in Super Bowl XLVIII, Elway was like a big kid in a darkened theater waiting for an absorbing double feature to light up the giant screen.

Elway, still wired to compete, brimmed with anticipation over Sunday’s conference championship games, blockbusters revolving around perhaps the league’s two best generational rivalries at quarterback, one in its winter and the other in its spring.

During the Broncos’ last run to the Super Bowl, after the 1998 season, Elway got the best of his own passing peer, Dan Marino, as Denver dispatched Marino’s Miami Dolphins in an A.F.C. divisional playoff. For Elway, who played 16 seasons, it was his first victory over Marino in only three meetings.

Because his rivalry with Marino was stoked so rarely, Elway, the Broncos’ executive vice president for football operations, has a special appreciation for the twin bill that will unfold Sunday: The Broncos’ Peyton Manning will share a marquee with the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady in the A.F.C. championship game, followed by the nightcap featuring the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick in the N.F.C.

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