Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen who made them NFL champions dies at age 75

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, Bowlen was the first owner in NFL history to have his team win 300 games — including playoffs — in three decades


                            Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen who made them NFL champions dies at age 75

ENGLEWOOD: 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, June 13, night. 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.

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, Bowlen was the first owner in NFL history to have his team win 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. 

"His soul will live on through the Broncos, the city of Denver and all of our fans," Bowlen's family said in their statement. "Heaven got a little bit more orange and blue tonight."

In this Nov. 28, 2010, photo, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen looks on prior to the start of an NFL football game between the St. Louis Rams and the Denver Broncos, in Denver. Denver Broncos owner Bowlen dies at age 75, family says in statement released by team.(AP Photo/Joe Mahoney, File)

During his 35 seasons as owner, Bowlen's teams compiled a .596 winning percentage — tied for second-best in the NFL during that span. Among professional franchises in the four major North American sports, only the San Antonio Spurs, New England Patriots and Los Angeles Lakers were better, according to the Broncos.

Bowlen relished working behind the scenes and shied away from the spotlight. In the words of former coach Mike Shanahan, "Pat just wanted to be one of the guys."

"That's why I think he was so beloved by so many people, including myself," Shanahan said. Former Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said: "Most guys would tell you that played for him or worked for him that he was not only our owner, but he was your friend."

In this June 16, 1998, file photo, then President Clinton, left, and Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen hold the Vince Lombardi Trophy during a ceremony at the White House where the president honored the Super Bowl XXXII champions. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson, File)

Bowlen served as a sounding board for NFL Commissioners Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell. He was crucial to the league's growth as a member of several committees, including co-chairing the NFL Management Council and working on network TV contracts.

He was the driving force in establishing the championship culture of the Broncos. "He was also an extraordinary leader at the league level during a key period," Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis said in a statement. "Pat Bowlen was the heart and soul of the Denver Broncos," Ellis said. "Not only was Pat a Hall of Fame owner — he was a Hall of Fame person."

Bowlen is survived by his wife, Annabel, and seven children: Amie, Beth, Patrick, Johnny, Brittany, Annabel and Christianna.

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