NFL: Broncos owner giving up control due to Alzheimer’s


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is giving up control of the team because of Alzheimer’s disease.

The 70-year-old Bowlen will no longer be a part of the club’s daily operations, the Broncos announced Wednesday. Team President Joe Ellis is adding the title of chief executive officer and will have final say on all matters.

The Broncos say the ownership of the franchise is held in a trust Bowlen set up more than a decade ago in hopes that one of his seven children will one day run the team.

“As many in the Denver community and around the National Football League have speculated, my husband, Pat, has very bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer’s disease for the last few years. He has elected to keep his condition private because he has strongly believed, and often said, ‘It’s not about me,’” Annabel Bowlen said in a statement Wednesday.

“Pat has always wanted the focus to be solely on the Denver Broncos and the great fans who have supported this team with such passion during his 30 years as owner. My family is deeply saddened that Pat’s health no longer allows him to oversee the Broncos, which has led to this public acknowledgment of such a personal health condition,” she added.

“Alzheimer’s has taken so much from Pat, but it will never take away his love for the Denver Broncos and his sincere appreciation for the fans.”

The team issued a statement offering “our full support, compassion and respect to ‘Mr. B,’ who has faced Alzheimer’s disease with such dignity and strength.”

Business is expected to go on as usual at Broncos headquarters.

Bowlen had reduced his public appearances in recent years, although he was still a fixture at the team’s Dove Valley complex and at all of its games. After acknowledging in 2009 that he suffered short-term memory loss, he stepped back from day-to-day operations in 2011 when he promoted Ellis to president.

For the first time this offseason, Ellis represented the Broncos at the annual owners meetings.

Under Bowlen’s guidance, the Broncos won six AFC titles and two Super Bowls. At 307-203-1, Bowlen and New York Giants founder Tim Mara are the only three-decade owners in pro football history to win 60 percent of their games.