Broncos’ Bowlen has Alzheimer’s, steps down

Updated: July 23, 2014, 6:33 AM ET news services

Longtime Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has given up control of the team as he battles Alzheimer’s disease.

The Denver Post first reported Bowlen, 70, would step aside. Team president Joe Ellis will assume control of the Broncos.

“It’s a really, really sad day,” Ellis said in a statement to The Denver Post. “It’s sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It’s sad for everyone in the organization. And it’s sad for all the Bronco fans who know what Pat Bowlen meant to them as an owner. It’s a day nobody wanted to see happen.”

Bowlen purchased the Broncos in 1984 from Edgar Kaiser. In Bowlen’s 30 years as owner, the Broncos reached six Super Bowls, winning back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998.

“This is a sad day for the NFL,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement to The Denver Post. “Pat Bowlen’s leadership has been critical to the success of the Broncos and the entire NFL. From building a championship team that is a pillar of the community to his important work for the league on television and labor matters, Pat’s love of the game drove him and we have all benefited from his passion and wisdom. But the time has come for Pat to focus on his health and we fully support him. Joe Ellis has been a trusted executive for Pat for many years after working with us at the league office. Joe’s deep experience ensures that the Broncos will continue to have strong leadership.”

Bowlen told The Denver Post in May 2009 that he was dealing with short-term memory loss, but on Tuesday the team and Bowlen’s family acknowledged for the first time that his condition had developed into Alzheimer’s.

“Going forward, Pat Bowlen’s indelible contributions to the Broncos, the NFL and this community will continue to define his three decades of ownership and serve as the standard he has set for his franchise,” the NFL said in a statement to The Denver Post.

“With more than 300 victories, including six AFC championships and back-to-back Super Bowls, Mr. Bowlen has established the culture of winning that is responsible for the Broncos’ sustained success. His work on various league committees has helped the NFL achieve unprecedented prosperity, and his philanthropic generosity has had a positive impact on so many throughout the Rocky Mountain Region.”

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