ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There is a documented plan for what is to happen with the Denver Broncos now that Pat Bowlen has passed away.
And there is what so many people think will happen.
Many people think John Elway will eventually wind up buying the Broncos or will put together a group that would allow him to serve as the controlling owner.
“No,’’ Elway said Monday in an interview with 9NEWS. “No. 1, I don’t have the money. I wish I did. I wish that wasn’t an issue.’’
He was laughing as he said that. Elway does have millions – he became the NFL’s highest-paid general manager when he signed his five-year contract extension two years ago. But buying an NFL franchise requires billions. The Broncos were most recently valued at $2.7 billion by Forbes.
The difference between millions and billions?
“It’s a different galaxy,’’ Elway said. “I’m happy with where I am. I’m proud to work for the organization and the opportunity they provide and so we’ll continue to work our tail off. Look forward to this season.
“The ownership will play itself out. That’s obviously been talked about for a long, long time and there’s a transition plan that Pat together and I’m sure Joe will execute it the way Pat wanted it.’’
Ellis is widely known as the Broncos’ chief executive officer and president, but he has a third title that is less known even if its eminently more significant: Controlling owner delegate.
The chief role separates him from the other two trustees of Pat Bowlen Trust: Rich Slivka, the Broncos’ general counsel, and Mary Kelly, Bowlen’s long-time personal attorney.
“I don’t want to talk too much about it other than to say Pat was prepared for this day,’’ Ellis said. “He put a plan in place. It was his plan. As a trustee, it’s my obligation and our obligation with my other two fellow trustees to carry out the plan.
“My role which he assigned me and talked to me about and asked me to take on is to be what is known as the controlling owner delegate. Not just CEO and president but to be here to represent him until a child is ready to take over. That’s what the plan is and I’m going to follow through on that and honor him.
“I know there’s some stuff out there that may be concerning to fans. Everybody here knows what Pat wants and what he’s all about. Outside of winning games, which is very hard to do in this league, everything else is in my opinion easily achievable. And we’re going to continue to do that and do great things in the community and obviously try to get better on the field and I’m optimistic about what John has done in the offseason.’’
What may be concerning to Broncos is there appears to be a dispute for future controlling owner. Beth Bowlen Wallace, one of Pat Bowlen’s older daughters from his first marriage, announced through a publicity firm last year that she’s ready to become the controlling owner.
The trustees shot back with their own statement that said Beth Bowlen Wallace was “not capable or qualified at this time.”
The trustees appear to be favoring Brittany Bowlen, the 29-year-old daughter from Pat Bowlen’s second marriage to Annabel, as the eventual successor to the Broncos’ throne.
The ownership dispute sits in NFL arbitration with Carmen Policy serving as arbiter. Meanwhile Bill Bowlen, Pat’s younger brother, has filed a lawsuit asking that Ellis, Slivka and Kelly be removed as trustees. The trustees believe Bill Bowlen is suing on behalf of Beth Bowlen Wallace.
The Bill Bowlen lawsuit is currently before Arapahoe County District Judge Charles Pratt. If Elway were sitting in judgment, he would side with his boss and the trustees. But Elway also holds out hope a peaceful resolution can be reached.
“I think Joe Ellis has done a tremendous job of trying to carry out Pat’s legacy,’’ Elway said. “Joe worked for Pat for so long and spent all that time around him. Joe knows what Pat wanted. And I think Joe’s doing a tremendous job trying to carry that vision out. We’ll see what happens. Talking with the family I think the family has the same goals that Pat had.
“As somebody that works here I’ve got 100 percent confidence it’s going to work out. The Broncos are going to be what the Broncos always are and that’s compete to win world championships.’’
> Join us on KTVD Ch. 20 on Tuesday, June 18 at 7 p.m. for a special look back at Pat Bowlen's legacy.
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