Longtime Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, 70, has transferred control of the NFL franchise to the Pat Bowlen Trust as he deals with Alzheimer's disease. The team will not be put up for sale but rather controlled by team president Joe Ellis until one of Bowlen's children is prepared for the role.
Mike Klis of The Denver Post broke the news and reports the trust was created more than a decade ago to help ensure the team's future in the Bowlen family. He also passed along comments from Ellis on a somber day for the organization:
It's a really, really sad day. It's sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It's sad for everyone in the organization. And it's sad for all the Bronco fans who know what Pat Bowlen meant to them as an owner. It's a day nobody wanted to see happen.
John Elway voiced his support for Bowlen:
Mr. B is a Hall of Fame owner and a great friend. This is a sad day for all of us. We support him, respect him & stand by him 100 percent!— John Elway (@johnelway) July 23, 2014
Elway commented further on Bowlen, according to the NFL Around the League Twitter feed:
Elway very emotional: “It’s going to be very hard to not see (Bowlen) walk through the front doors every day."— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) July 23, 2014
The Broncos' president also said he felt Bowlen belonged in the Hall of Fame, according to Lindsay Jones of USA Today:
Should Pat Bowlen be in the Hall of Fame? "Absolutely," Elway said. "I'd like his [bust] to be right next to mine."— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) July 23, 2014
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement to The Denver Post:
This is a sad day for the NFL. Pat Bowlen's leadership has been critical to the success of the Broncos and the entire NFL. From building a championship team that is a pillar of the community to his important work for the league on television and labor matters, Pat's love of the game drove him and we have all benefited from his passion and wisdom. But the time has come for Pat to focus on his health and we fully support him. Joe Ellis has been a trusted executive for Pat for many years after working with us at the league office. Joe's deep experience ensures that the Broncos will continue to have strong leadership.
Bowlen spent 30 years leading the Broncos franchise. The team won six AFC championships, including one this past season, and two Super Bowls along with numerous division titles during that time to make it one of the league's most successful teams.
The Wisconsin native first talked about his struggles with short-term memory loss to The Denver Post five years ago. The condition worsened and developed into Alzheimer's, which led to the decision to move forward with the plans put in place years ago.
Josina Anderson of ESPN talked about her meetings with Bowlen over the years:
#Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is a class act with a blue chip organization. Every time I ran into him he said hello or gave out a friendly hug.— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) July 23, 2014
Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal was one of what's likely to become a mounting group to send along their thoughts:
Thoughts with Pat Bowlen and his family. Been known for awhile he was sick, with his role in team reduced.— daniel kaplan (@dkaplanSBJ) July 23, 2014
Peter King of TheMMQB was among the group as well:
Best wishes to Pat Bowlen and his family as he battles Alzheimer's.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) July 23, 2014
The report confirmed the Bowlen family has been given an overview about the future of the organization, but there is no timetable for any of the children to take over at this point. Right now, they are focused on the health of their father.
Along with Ellis, general manager John Elway and head coach John Fox have created a stable environment in Denver. Thanks to the planning by Bowlen, it doesn't sound like that is going to change as he steps aside for health reasons.
While he will no longer be a constant presence as team owner, Ellis said the Broncos are still going to be led by Bowlen's vision and commitment to winning.