Beat-up truck, Busch Light and chew: Broncos fullback values simple things

Jeff Legwold/ESPN

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There is a researcher in Japan who believes science supports the theory that dog owners actually look like the dogs they acquire.

Science could also, after a scan of the Denver Broncos players’ parking lot, support the notion that the high-end cars in the parking spaces match the positions the drivers play. There are the tricked-out monster-truck look-alikes for many of the linemen, the sleek, Autobahn-worthy imports for the wide receivers and the luxury sedans with tinted windows for the more high-profile All-Pros.

Then, in the front row most days, tucked between the rest, there is function over form. It's the off-the-rack, blue, Dodge pickup truck, model year 2000, with the cracked window and assorted items scattered across the dashboard.

The hypothesis holds up here: It belongs to fullback Andy Janovich.

“They probably didn’t even take it on the road much," said Janovich, the proud, thrifty, just-do-the-job owner of the blue truck with 138,300 miles on the odometer. He said it fits him, his personality and his job, and “when it dies, I'll just get another older, cheap one to replace it."

Janovich, who is in his fourth season in his job, which has one of the lowest glamour quotients and is fading in some football circles, considers the truck to be what he is: reliable, sturdy, up to the job and decidedly, happily even, under the radar.

“I don’t need an extra car payment. I’m just cheap. I like to save as much money as possible," Janovich said. “About the only things I spend money on are Busch Light, chew and hunting gear. It’s plenty for me. It suits me. I mean, the first time I changed the oil on it, I knew right then it was an old farm truck because I opened the hood, and there was just corn all over on the inside."

Open the hood on Janovich, and the Nebraska native is a story in perseverance, hard work and vocational selflessness -- and there is even some corn.

“He’s what you think about as a Nebraska guy," Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay said. “He works, does his job, doesn’t ask for anybody to cheer him on or anything. He just does it."

Former Broncos special-teams coach Brock Olivo once offered, "If we had 22 Janos, we'd be all right." Janovich is a former walk-on for the Cornhuskers, a fullback/linebacker who was moved to fullback to join the cavalcade of former walk-ons from the state’s tapestry of high schools who have lived the life of a fullback in the program’s history.

“If I think about it, I was a fullback in high school. I didn’t become one later because I was a walk-on," Janovich said. “I was a fullback in high school, was a fullback in college, and I’m a fullback now. There are no surprises there, for me or anybody else."

You might say Janovich came off the assembly line that way. Like the truck. Janovich didn’t buy it to look good or impress the neighbors; he bought it “in college to haul my mower around on a trailer" as he mowed lawns and worked construction, trying to pay for college as one of nine children in his family.

It was needed to get the job -- or jobs -- done.

“My brother Jim builds houses, and he has an [Ford] F-350 Super Duty, and I drove it when it was brand-new," Janovich said. “I was like, ‘This is cool,’ while I was driving it, but then I got out, and I didn’t have any desire to spend that much on a vehicle. I don’t know, I just think my truck suits my job, I think my job suits me. It kinds of all goes together. It’s kind of there when you need it."

His rewards for a job well done don’t often come with highlights. After all, Janovich had all of 45 carries in four years at Nebraska -- he waited three seasons to have 42 of those carries as a senior -- and he has had just 12 carries in three seasons with the Broncos.

There have been similar moments in college and the pros, such as his 53-yard catch-and-run against Southern Mississippi in 2015 or his 28-yard touchdown run in the Broncos’ 2016 season opener or his 32-yard catch-and-run last season, when the inevitable questions follow the big plays.

Coaches who are asked whether Janovich should get the ball more, whether that’s the plan, whether there’s more to come usually answer that it could be, that Janovich is that kind of athlete, and on and on in a football sort of blah-blah.

Then Janovich is simply returned to his high-impact job as a blocker for others and a special-teams captain who doesn’t seem to mind life outside the stat lines.

“I’m not at a position where I’m going to score a bunch of touchdowns or have a million catches or rushing yards," Janovich said. “For the most part, I just block people and make small plays here and there, help other people make big plays. I’ve never been the playmaker. And do I like my job? Absolutely. It works for me."