Friday, June 14, 2019
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Pat Bowlen, the Denver Broncos owner who transformed the team from also-rans into NFL champions and helped the league usher in billion-dollar television deals, died late Thursday night, just under two months before his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was 75.
In a statement posted on the Broncos' website, Bowlen's family said he died peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones. They did not specify a cause of death. Bowlen had battled Alzheimer's for several years.
Bowlen was the first owner in NFL history to oversee a team that won 300 games – including playoffs – in three decades. He had as many Super Bowl appearances (seven) as losing seasons, and Denver is 354-240-1 since he bought the club in 1984.
Under his stewardship, the Broncos won Super Bowls in 1998, '99 and 2016.
After their 31-24 victory over Green Bay for the franchise's first championship, Bowlen famously hollered, "This one's for John!" Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway called it the greatest moment of his playing career.
Elway the executive returned the favor on Feb. 7, 2016, when he jabbed the silver Lombardi Trophy into the sky after Denver's 24-10 win over Carolina in Super Bowl 50 and declared, "This one's for Pat."
That came 18 months after Alzheimer's forced Bowlen to step down from his daily duties running the team.
"I'm just glad I had the opportunity," Elway told The Associated Press in the victorious locker room that night. "I didn't want to think about it too much because I didn't want to jinx anything. But I was waiting for the day that I was able to do that. So, I was glad and really thrilled that I was able to do that and we'll take that trophy over to Pat next week and let him cherish it."
Elway delivered the prize to Bowlen's home back in Denver. And in the Mile High City, more than a million fans packed downtown for a victory parade 17 years after Elway capped his remarkable playing career by leading the Broncos to back-to-back titles.
Super Bowl 50 was the Broncos' eighth trip to the big game, seven under Bowlen's watch, and all of those with Elway's help – first as his QB and then as his GM.