When Broncos owner Pat Bowlen hoisted the Lombardi Trophy moments after his team’s win over the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, he proclaimed, “this one is for John!” And the world cheered and celebrated the crowning achievement of one of the greatest players in NFL history, John Elway, who finally captured the elusive championship he sought for years.
Well, maybe not everybody.
The fans in Baltimore weren’t likely cheering on Elway’s Super Bowl win — memories of the super brat (in their eyes) forcing a trade from Baltimore to Denver still seared their minds.
Likewise, when LeBron James won the NBA title Thursday night, it was the crowning achievement of his pro career. And like Elway, it came in a different city and organization than the one in which he started his career. A city (and maybe in LeBron’s case a country) rooting against him.
But players leaving their city to win a title elsewhere is nothing new in the NFL. Here are a few of the most memorable:
Steve Young got the proverbial monkey off his back when he led the 49ers to a title in Super Bowl XXIX (though, many will argue his true crowning achievement was finally beating the Cowboys in the 1994 NFC Championship Game). Young floundered during his early years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Doug Williams was another former Bucs quarterback who went on to win a title with another team, leading the Redskins to a Super Bowl XXII championship.
Reggie White failed to bring a championship to Philadelphia, but he went on to Green Bay and was a member of the Packers’ Super Bowl XXXI championship team.
Fans in San Diego might have been pulling for the Patriots after Eli Manning won the first of his two Super Bowl MVP awards, as he knocked off New England in Super Bowl XLII (and later XLVI).
Drew Brees is another former Chargers quarterback who won a title after he left San Diego. Brees was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV.
Some other notable players in other sports who left teams to win titles include Reggie Jackson (from A’s to Yankees), teammates Ray Bourque (from Bruins to Avalanche) and Rob Blake (from Kings to Avalanche) and Shaquille O’Neal (from Magic to Lakers).
Who are some who stand out to you?
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