Pat Bowlen, who won three Super Bowls over three decades as owner of the Denver Broncos, died Thursday at age 75 after a battle with Alzheimer's disease. The Broncos revealed in a statement shortly after midnight local time Friday that Bowlen passed away at his home in Denver.
The Bowlen family released a statement via the team that said: "We are saddened to inform everyone that our beloved husband and father, Pat Bowlen, passed on to the next chapter of his life late Thursday night peacefully at home surrounded by family. His soul will live on through the Broncos, the city of Denver and all of our fans. "Our family wishes to express its sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support we have received in recent years. Heaven got a little bit more orange and blue tonight.
"Pat Bowlen had a competitive spirit with a great sense of humour. As fun-loving as he was, he always wanted us to understand the big picture. We will forever remember his kindness and humility. "More important than being an incredible owner, Pat Bowlen was an incredible human being."
Bowlen bought the Broncos in 1984. He served as the team's CEO until 2014, when he stepped down from day-to-day operations after announcing he was fighting Alzheimer's, a disease his wife, Annabel, was diagnosed with last year. Longtime executive Joe Ellis has run the team since 2014. "This is a very sad day for our organization, our community and the National Football League," Ellis said. "Pat Bowlen was the heart and soul of the Denver Broncos. Not only was Pat a Hall of Fame owner, but he was also a Hall of Fame person. His competitiveness, kindness and humility are the qualities that I will always remember. Even during his battle with Alzheimer's, you could still see that same strength and dignity in Pat that he brought to the office every single day for more than 30 years."
Bowlen will be inducted posthumously into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August along with the 2019 class. Since Bowlen purchased the team, the Broncos have as many Super Bowl appearances as losing seasons (seven) and the league's third-best winning percentage (.597), claiming three Lombardi Trophies in 1997, 1998 and 2015 seasons. Bowlen also helped negotiate the league's new $18 billion television contract while serving on the league's broadcasting committee.
"Pat was the driving force in establishing the championship culture of the Broncos," Ellis said. "He was also an extraordinary leader at the league level during a key period of growth. ...There will never be another owner like Pat Bowlen. Bowlen is survived by his wife and his seven children: Amie, Beth, Patrick, Johnny, Brittany, Annabel and Christianna.
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