Report: Billionaire Robert F. Smith Emerging as Possible Bidder for Broncos

Doric SamJanuary 21, 2022

Billionaire investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith is seen in a portrait in Austin, Tx on June 16, 2020. Smith made headlines after agreeing to pay the student debt of the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College. Currently he is pushing to help African American owned businesses connect with small business assistance programs. (Photo by Christian K. Lee for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

(Image produced with a Pentax 67 camera body on 120 film)
Image produced with a Pentax 67 camera body on 120 film

The Denver Broncos franchise is reportedly expected to be sold this offseason. If that does happen, a potential bidder has emerged.

According to Michael McCarthy and A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports, billionaire investor Robert F. Smith could possibly be among those looking to become the team's new owner. If Smith manages to complete the deal, he would be the first Black owner in the 101-year history of the NFL.

Smith has an estimated net worth of $6.7 billion and is ranked as the richest Black person in America, according to Forbes. The Broncos were valued at $3.75 billion last year by Forbes. A potential sale of $4 billion or more would be the richest team sale in U.S. sports history.

A native of Denver, Smith is the chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners after he founded the company in 2000. During his 2019 commencement address at Morehouse College, he pledged to pay off the student loan debts of over 400 students.

Smith has also been involved in some controversy. In 2020, he was accused of having over $200 million in unreported income and hiding assets in the British Virgin Islands and Switzerland. He avoided indictment by entering into a non-prosecution agreement in October of that year.

If Denver is put up for sale, it will likely be through an auction because it is under the Patrick D. Bowlen Trust. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reported Wednesday that the trustees "would have a fiduciary responsibility to the trust's beneficiaries to go with the highest bidder, pending approval from 24 of the NFL's 32 owners." The beneficiaries are Bowlen's seven children and his brother John.

Broncos president of operations and NFL Hall of Famer John Elway has expressed interest in being a part of the new ownership group. Woody Paige of The Denver Gazette reported that there are six groups expected to be involved in bidding for the franchise. Paige stated that former Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is in one of the groups. Paige also reported that one of Bowlen's daughters, Brittany, is preparing to bid on the team.