BY QUINN TRASK
On June 13, the beloved owner of the Denver Broncos, Pat Bowlen, died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Bowlen had owned the Broncos for 35 seasons and during that time, established a strong culture of winning and being the best at everything.
During Bowlen’s tenure as owner, the Broncos appeared in seven Super Bowls, winning three, with the most recent being Super Bowl 50 in 2015. The Broncos also appeared in the playoffs for 18 of those 35 seasons and Bowlen won 333 games over that span, averaging over nine wins a season. But like most legends, Mr. Bowlen was so much bigger than his impressive stats.
Bowlen’s winning attitude and tenacity are what set the tone for Denver Broncos football for so long. One of his most well-known quotes read, “I want to be number one in everything,” and that says it all. His drive to make sure the Broncos were the best they could be was unmatched and brought many players to Denver, including Super Bowl 50 champion, Peyton Manning.
“It was an honor to play for Mr. Bowlen’s organization, as I’ve said numerous times,” Manning said in an interview with NFL.com. “I always had great respect for the Denver Broncos during my time playing for the Colts competing against his organization. So much of that credit goes to Pat Bowlen and his desire to be the best and to win. That had a lot to do with me signing with the Denver Broncos — that I knew Mr. Bowlen was all about winning and I knew the people that he had hired would carry on that tradition and legacy. It was a great decision to come play here — we still live here today. I’m grateful for Mr. Bowlen and the legacy that he’s established with the Broncos, in the NFL and certainly in this Denver community. He will be missed by many. It was an honor to know Mr. Bowlen and a real pleasure to have played for his team — the Denver Broncos.”
On Tuesday, June 18, over 5,000 fans poured into Broncos Stadium at Mile High to honor Bowlen’s legacy and marvel at memorabilia from his era on display. Fans were able to take pictures with the three Lombardi Trophies, numerous Pat Bowlen game balls, Bowlen’s desk and iconic clothes such as his fur coat, sunglasses and cowboy boots. Fans were also given the opportunity to say some words to members of the Bowlen family.
Mr. B’s legacy will never be forgotten and he will forever be remembered in Broncos and NFL history. Bowlen will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton with the 2019 class, where he will forever be immortalized with football’s greats and while it is not easy to say goodbye to Pat Bowlen, it is easy to celebrate his life and his achievements. You truly were number one and from a lifelong Broncos fan and all of Broncos Country, thank you, Mr. B.