Pat Bowlen was a man that transcended sports.
At the age of 75, he has sadly passed away.
Denver was a ‘sleepy little cow town’ when an Edmonton lawyer bought the Denver Broncos from Edgar Kaiser in 1984.
The Broncos had seen little success before Red Miller became head coach in 1977, and had just eight winning seasons in their first 24 years leading up to Bowlen’s takeover.
That all changed under Pat Bowlen, as the franchise went to as many Super Bowls as they had losing seasons under his stewardship, winning three NFL titles.
No one will forget Super Bowl XXXII, as Bowlen exclaimed, “This one’s for John,” as he lifted his franchise’s first ever Lombardi Trophy.
But for all of his success in Denver, the NFL has so much to thank Pat Bowlen for.
Bowlen served on 15 committees. As chair of the labor committee Pat Bowlen helped to avoid labour disputes, whilst he also transformed the television landscape as the ‘father’ of Sunday Night Football.
Sunday Night Football is just about the most watched TV show in America, and the NFL dominates television ratings consistently throughout the season, something that the league can thank Bowlen for.
For us fans in the UK, and around the world, of both the Broncos and the sport in general, we also have reasons to be grateful for Pat Bowlen.
Only the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers played more American Bowl games than the Broncos, who played games in London, Tokyo, Berlin, Barcelona and Sydney from 1986 to 1999.
This was a precursor to the International Series, established in 2007, with the Broncos taking part in the fourth edition at Wembley Stadium in 2010.
We have much to thank Bowlen for, and it is no surprise that he is revered and loved by everybody associated with the Broncos.
In his Hall of Fame induction speech, Terrell Davis spoke of the Bowlen family, as he said: “Their philosophy is to treat players on the team as if they were a member of their own family.
“When I tore my ACL, Pat was the first to give me a call in the recovery room.”
Davis added: “Let’s make sure that this champion is enshrined in 2018.”
Davis summed Bowlen up perfectly, he was a players’ owner, a fans’ owner.
Unfortunately, the great man has not been enshrined whilst he was still here to witness it, and it is heart-breaking that Alzheimer’s has taken him away before he could enter the Hall of Fame.
You cannot write the history of the NFL without Pat Bowlen.
You cannot write the history of Denver, or Colorado, without Pat Bowlen.
On Saturday 3rd August 2019, Broncos Country will come together and say: “This one’s for Pat.”