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Report: Robert F. Smith Not Planning Bid to Buy Broncos If Team Is Put Up for Sale

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 31, 2022

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 28: Former Broncos logos are seen on the side of a display used for player introductions before the NFL game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos on November 28, 2021, at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Robert F. Smith, a Denver-raised billionaire who is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, reportedly will not be among the bidders to buy the Denver Broncos if they are put up for sale.

"He is not a potential buyer and is not planning on purchasing the Broncos," a source told Mike Klis and Jacob Tobey of 9News.com.

"Robert's priorities right now are on the fight for voting rights and economic justice rather than being...an owner of a team," the source added. "He continues to be most focused on how he can best help underserved communities gain access to capital, health care, education and the ballot box. Pursuing ownership of the Broncos is not on his radar right now."

The team's previous owner, Pat Bowlen, died in 2019. He had purchased the team in 1984. His seven children own about 11 percent each of the team, and his brother, John, owns the rest.

Before his death, Bowlen put the organization into the hands of a three-person trust comprised of team president Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Slivka and Denver attorney Mary Kelly, whose job was to identify which of the children was best suited to run the team.

That issue has not been solved. While it is still possible one of Bowlen's children could take ownership, an outside sale seems likely.

"It's billionaires, it's big money, it's lawyers, it's not exactly the most captivating stuff for football fans, but it is the single biggest story surrounding the Broncos," the vice president of content strategy for sports and lifestyle company DNVR, Ryan Koenigsberg, told Conor McCue of CBS Denver.

"The truth is, everyone who can wants to buy this team," he added. "John Elway wants to be involved with an ownership group, we think Peyton Manning is going to be involved, then of course you have the other big names, [Jeff] Bezos, Jay-Z, and Robert Smith, who is a Denver-based billionaire."

According to Forbes, the Broncos are worth approximately $3.8 billion, the 10th-highest valuation among NFL teams.