John Elway insisted that every one of the Denver Broncos was better the second Peyton Manning put his signature on that nearly $100 million contract last spring.
Indeed, all have prospered from the arrival of the meticulous quarterback whose work ethic generated, as coach John Fox also predicted, a lifting of all boats.
While Manning was turning what began as a season of mystery into one of magnificence, several of his teammates enjoyed breakout or bounce-back years as the Broncos (13-3) roared into the playoffs as the AFC's top seed and winners of 11 straight.
Not since Elway was leading comebacks on the football field instead of from the front office have the Broncos been the odds-on favorites to win it all.
They have Manning to thank for that.