Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and executive vice president of football operations John Elway celebrate after the 2013 AFC championship playoff football game against the New England Patriots at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
As the Denver Broncos open a new season, there are two words Broncos Country needs to speak.
For 30 years, Pat Bowlen was the best owner in all of professional sports, let alone the NFL. Since news broke at the start of Broncos training camp that he’s giving up control of the organization due to Alzheimer’s, it brings to light how first class he is. What he meant to the team and this city.
The last month or so has shown Broncos Country just how lucky it is to have him as its owner.
Mr. Bowlen gets it.
He’s not only a great businessman, he knows what it takes to win. He never plays with scared money, trusts the people around him and stays out of the way. When was the last time you saw Mr. Bowlen do an interview? Send an email?
More from Broncos News
- Denver Broncos dream coaching staff for DeMeco Ryans
- Denver Broncos: “Sleeper” David Shaw checks every box
- The Broncos’ coaching search likely has not gone to plan
- Special Chiefs Suck Offer: Bet $5, Win $150 if Joe Burrow Passes for ONE YARD vs KC
- 3 reasons Sean Payton should not coach the Broncos
His success speaks for itself. But it was never about him. It was and is about the Denver Broncos. Under his ownership, the Broncos are one of the crown jewels of the NFL. And that will continue now that he’s stepped aside from the team he loves so much.
Ten years ago, he set up a Pat Bowlen Trust made up of non-family members to act as owner of that trust until one of his seven kids takes control of the team. Until that time, Broncos president Joe Ellis will act in Mr. Bowlen’s place as the new CEO and have final say. Aside from the title, it’s a role Ellis has had since 2011.
Mr. B, 70, wants the Broncos to remain in his family, and they will. He wants them to continue to compete for Super Bowls, and they will. The success he created will continue now that he’s no longer there.
The Broncos should do their part by putting him in the Ring of Fame tonight against the Indianapolis Colts.
As it says on the Broncos’ website, “Denver is the only team to post at least 90 wins in each of the last three decades, and the franchise’s 307 overall victories under Mr. Bowlen (1984-pres.) rank third in the NFL (2nd in the AFC) during that span.
“In addition, the Broncos’ 302 national television appearances under Mr. Bowlen are the most in the league. That total includes a league-high 171 prime-time games, as well as 127 appearances as part of network doubleheaders. Both will see their numbers increase tonight and the rest of the season.
Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and executive vice president of football operations John Elway before the 2013 AFC championship playoff football game against the New England Patriots at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
“Mr. Bowlen’s six Super Bowl appearances, including back-to-back World Championships following the 1997-98 seasons, are tied for the most by an owner in NFL history. Denver’s 11 division titles since 1984 are more than all but three NFL clubs, and its 25 seasons with a .500 or better record during that span are easily the most in the league.”
All that matters to Mr. Bowlen is winning. In his time as owner, the Broncos had more Super Bowl appearances (six) than they did losing seasons (five). But perhaps his greatest asset as an owner is his ability to admit he made a mistake and then fix it. Mr. Bowlen isn’t afraid to say, “I screwed up.”
When Josh McDaniels was hired as Broncos head coach in 2009, few thought it was the right choice. Mr. Bowlen, Ellis, Hoodie Junior’s family and Darth Hoodie himself all thought it was a great move. Aside from those people, it was a terrible decision. That was proven the next season when the Broncos had a record of 3-9 after a 10-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The next day, Mr Bowlen admitted his mistake and fired McDaniels. He knew the course of action, took it and eventually hired John Elway. The rest, as they say, is history. The hardest thing to do in business and life is admit when you fail. Humans by nature are a prideful bunch.
These people call this keep-an-employee-at-all-costs mindset “loyalty.” It’s not. It’s cowardice. It’s failure of leadership. Put your ego aside, admit you screwed up and move on.
Imagine if President Abraham Lincoln was “loyal.”
“We can’t change generals of the Union Army because we don’t want to disrupt the culture of the troops.”
“Um, Mr. President, you’re getting your ass kicked left and right by the Confederate Army. You’re not competitive. You have a few fluke wins now and then, but your military is terrible. You have no leadership at the top, which trickles down to the troops.”
“I have no idea how our record got as bad as it is. I just know it’s bad. I take it personally.”
Mr. Bowlen put his pride aside for the betterment of his organization. He knows what it takes to win. And all he wants to do is win. Sure, the division titles are nice but it’s about Super Bowls for the Broncos. No one wants to win more than Mr. Bowlen.
So he hires people who are not only incredibly intelligent and good at what they do but have that same passion to win. He’s created a culture of winning at Dove Valley to the point that if Denver doesn’t win the Super Bowl every year, it’s considered a failure. That’s not coming from the fans, the players, the coaches or the front office. That comes from the owner.
If he doesn’t get to hold the Lombardi Trophy, he gives Elway and his crew what they need to make it so he can. He doesn’t question it. He doesn’t play with scared money. Mr. Bowlen isn’t afraid of failure because he knows the taste of victory is so much more powerful. And that’s all he wants to taste.
You don’t need to fret, Broncos Country. Dick Monfort will not own the Broncos. The legacy and tradition Mr. B built in his 30 years as owner of the Broncos will continue.
It’s beyond time for the Broncos to win their third Super Bowl and repay the best owner in the NFL with the four words, “This one’s for Pat.”
September 30 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen greets referee Pete Morelli (135) before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports