November 1, 2015
The Broncos lead the Packers 17-7, and they are doing it in front of a large contingent of the Super Bowl XXXII Champion Broncos, including coach Mike Shanahan. They were all introduced to thunderous cheers before the game.
The Broncos began play as an AFL franchise in 1960. A quarter century later, they were purchased by Pat Bowlen, a Wisconsin native who’d made his fortune in the Canadian oil business.
The beginning of Bowlen’s tenure as owner coincided with the beginning of the career of a quarterback named John Elway, and the combination was a good one. The broncos became one of the NFL’s most successful and popular franchises. Since Bowlen assumed ownership, the Broncos have made the playoffs 17 times in 31 seasons, and have more Super Bowl appearances – six – than losing seasons – five.
Behind the scenes Bowlen also played an important role in league affairs as the Chairman of the NFL’s Television Committee, and in fact was the driving force a decade ago in the creation of what you are watching now, NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Bowlen was an athlete at heart, competing well into middle age in triathlons, and often working out side by side with his players, who had genuine fondness and appreciation for the man they called Mr. B.
Sadly, in recent years, Bowlen has been stricken by the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and at just 71, he is no longer able to make public appearances. But that did not stop a large number of past Bronco legends from gathering for a series of events honoring Bowlen this weekend and culminating tonight with his induction into the Bronco Ring of Fame.