Longtime Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen passed away late Thursday night at the age of 75 after an extended and courageous battle against Alzheimer’s disease.
The Broncos announced Bowlen’s passing with a statement.
“Bowlen — a 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame selection — guided the Broncos during his 35-year ownership with a simple phrase: ‘I want to be No. 1 in everything,'” the statement read. “The Broncos extend their deepest sympathies to Mr. Bowlen’s wife, Annabel, his children (Amie, Beth, Patrick, Johnny, Brittany, Annabel, Christianna) and his entire family. The organization also offers its sincere condolences to Broncos fans, Mr. Bowlen’s friends and the many individuals around the National Football League who worked with him.”
According to the New York Times, Bowlen made his money in oil, natural gas and real estate and bought 61 percent of the team in 1984 from Edgar F. Kaiser Jr.
In 2014 he relinquished control of the franchise because of his continuing battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Bowlen was selected to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame this year. He will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August posthumously.
The Broncos made more Super Bowl appearances — seven — as they had losing seasons with Bowlen running the show. Those included the club’s back-to-back Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999 and its victory in Super Bowl 50 with Peyton Manning at quarterback.
He was also the first owner in NFL history with 300 wins over his first 30 years, and frequently said that the word “rebuilding” was not in his vocabulary.
According to the statement, no NFL owner during the last 35 seasons had more winning seasons (21) and playoff berths (18) than Bowlen, who helped Denver become the only team with 90-plus wins over each of his first three decades of ownership.While Bowlen produced great team’s on the field, he also was focused on making the Broncos winners off of it.
“Nobody is going to care whether the team is worth a billion dollars or whatever,” Bowlen said. “That doesn’t matter. It’s more about how successful you were as an organization and as a team on the field and in the community.”
He also made an impact on his players, like John Elway, the team’s Hall of Fame quarterback who is now the general manager for the Broncos.
“He was a guy that was a great businessman but knew how to blend that with the personal side of it,” Elway told Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. “Everybody that played for him — he had to make a lot of tough decisions. I think that he made those with the organization in mind, but also took care of the people that were on the other end of those decisions. He was always able to keep that relationship. He takes such great care of his employees and his players that that’s what he’s known for.”