Significant Moments in Denver Broncos History: Pat Bowlen Buys the Broncos

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

When we consider what's happened since 1984, few things have had as great an impact as Pat Bowlen.

Patrick Dennis Bowlen is a native of WIsconsin and grew to be a successful businessman and lawyer with interests in both the United States and Canada. Bowlen bought the Denver Broncos from Edgar Kaiser in 1984 -- he was introduced to the Denver community as the new owner on March 23, 1984. He has gone on to become the longest-tenured owner of a major sports team in Colorado history.

Bowlen took steps early on to build a sense of pride and an attitude of success for the team. In his first year of ownership he created both an annual Bronco alumni reunion and the Ring of Fame which graces the Broncos' home stadium. In that same first season, the Broncos set team records for number of wins in a season (13), consecutive wins (10) and the franchise led the NFL in actual, in-stadium attendance. Since Bowlen took the reins of the team, the Broncos have posted ninety or more wins in each of the last three decades and have also posted the fewest number of losing seasons (5) in the NFL since 1984.

Here are some additional, interesting facts about how the team has fared under Bowlen's leadership (1984-present). These facts have been drawn from the 2013 Denver Broncos Media Guide. The Media Guide is available as a free pdf download from the Broncos' official website [http://media.denverbroncos.com/media+guide/]

The Broncos versus the AFC West (1984-present)

Denver Kansas City Oakland San Diego
Super Bowl Victories 2 0 0 0
Super Bowl Appearances 5 0 1 1
AFC West Titles 10 5 5 7
AFC Championship Appearances 7 1 3 2
Playoff Appearances 15 11 8 8
Playoff Games 29 14 14 14
Winning Seasons 17 15 9 9
Regular Season Wins 276 231 222 215



Here is how the Broncos have stacked up against the rest of the NFL since 1984 -- also drawn from the Media Guide:

1984-Present Denver Notes
Fewest Losing Seasons 1st (5) Next teams: Baltimore & Houston with 6 losing seasons
Regular Season Wins 2nd (276) 1st place goes to San Francisco with 283
Division Titles 4th - Tie (10) 1st - San Francisco (14), 2nd - New England (13), 3rd - Pittsburgh (12)
Playoff Appearances 4th - Tie (15) 1st - San Francisco (18), 2nd (Tie) - New England & Pittsburgh (16)
Playoff Games 5th (29) 1st (Tie) - New England & San Francisco (36), 3rd - Pittsburgh (33), 4th - Green Bay (30)
Conference Championship Games 4th (7) 1st - San Francisco (10), 2nd (Tie) - New England & Pittsburgh (9)
Super Bowl Appearances 2nd - Tie (5) 1st - New England (7)
Super Bowl Victories 5th - Tie (2) 1st (Tie) - San Francisco & New York Giants (4), 3rd (Tie) - Dallas & New England (3)
Winning Percentage 2nd (.597 276-186-1) 1st - San Francisco (.613 283-178-2)



Bowlen has made it a point to bring in quality personnel, both in terms of coaching staff and players. He has had six head coaches during his ownership years:

Coach Years Record Playoff Record
Dan Reeves 1984-92 110-73-1 7-6
Wade Phillips 1993-94 16-16-0 0-1
Mike Shanahan 1995-2008 138-86-0 8-5
Josh McDaniels 2009-10 11-17-0 0-0
Eric Studesville 2010 1-3-0 0-0
John Fox 2011-present 21-11-0 1-2



During his years, there have been seven primary quarterbacks:

Quarterback Years Notes
John Elway 1984-98 3000-yard seasons in 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997; the 1993 season eclipsed the 4000-yard mark with 4,030 yards
Brian Griese 1999-2002 3000-yard seasons in 1999 and 2002; Griese's 2002 season broke Elway's yardage record by recording 4,089 passing yards
Jake Plummer 2003-06 3000-yard seasons in 2004 and 2005
Jay Cutler 2007-08 3000-yard seasons in 2007 and 2008; Cutler broke Griese's passing record by recording 4,526 passing yards
Kyle Orton 2009-10 3000-yard seasons in 2009 and 2010; Orton threw for 3,653 yards in 2010 despite being benched for the final three games of the season.
Tim Tebow 2011
Peyton Manning 2012-present 3000-yard season in 2012; Manning set a new franchise passing yardage record by recording 4,659 passing yards



The Bowlen years have also seen a remarkable corp of leading running backs wear the orange and blue:

Running Back Years Notes
Sammy Winder 1984-87 1000-yard season in 1984
Tony Dorsett 1988
Bobby Humphrey 1989-90 1000-yard seasons in 1989 & 1990
Gaston Green 1991-92 1000-yard season in 1991
Rod Bernstine 1993
Leonard Russell 1994
Terrell Davis 1995-98, 2001 1000-yard seasons in 1995, 1996 & 1997; 2000-yard season in 1998; 41 100-yard games
Olandis Gary 1999 1000-yard season in 1999
Mike Anderson 2000, 2005 1000-yard seasons in 2000 & 2005
Clinton Portis 2002-03 1000-yard seasons in 2002 & 2003
Reuben Droughns 2004 1000-yard season in 2004
Tatum Bell 2006 1000-yard season in 2006
Selvin Young 2007
Peyton HIllis 2008
Knowshon Moreno 2009-10 Moreno fell 53 yards short of a 1000-yard season as a rookie in 2009
Willis McGahee 2011-12 1000-yard season in 2011



The Broncos' offense has featured some talented leading receivers to complement their running attack:

Receiver Years Notes
Steve Watson 1984-85 1000-yard season in 1984
Mark Jackson 1986, 1990, 1992
Vance Johnson 1987-89 1000-yard season in 1989
Mike Young 1991
Shannon Sharpe 1993, 1996 1000-yard seasons in 1994, 1996
Anthony Miller 1994-95 1000-yard seasons in 1994* & 1995
Rod Smith 1997-2005 1000-yard seasons in 1997*, 1998*, 1999*, 2000*, 2001, 2002, 2004* & 2005; 31 100-yard games
Javon Walker 2006 1000-yard season in 2006
Brandon Marshall 2007-09 1000-yard seasons in 2007, 2008 & 2009
Brandon Lloyd 2010 1000-yard season in 2010
Eric Decker 2011
Demaryius Thomas 2012 1000-yard season in 2012


*Note: the Broncos had multiple receivers with 1000-yard seasons in 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999 (Sharpe 1997; Ed McCaffrey 1998, 1999 & 2000; Ashley Lelie 2004; Eric Decker 2012


In the years since Bowlen assumed leadership of the Broncos, Denver has had sixteen players be awarded a combined twenty-eight 1st-team All Pro honors by the Associated Press. A surprising (and to Broncos fans rather glaring) omission is that John Elway was never voted to the 1st-team All Pro team by the Associated Press. Here are the player who have been so honored:

Player Position Years AP 1st-team All-Pro
Shannon Sharpe TE 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
Champ Bailey CB 2004, 2005, 2006
Karl Mecklenburg LB/DE 1985, 1986, 1989
Terrell Davis RB 1996, 1997, 1998
Steve Atwater S 1991, 1992
Tom Nalen C 2000, 2003
Ryan Clady T 2009, 2012
Al Wilson LB 2005
Trevor Pryce DT/DE 1999
Elvis Dumervil DE 2009
Gary Zimmerman T 1996
Rulon Jones DE 1986
Von Miller LB 2012
Alfred Williams DE/LB 1996
Peyton Manning QB 2012
John Mobley LB 1997



The Broncos have had a much larger representation in the Pro Bowl during the Bowlen years than their representation on the AP's 1st-team All-Pro list. All told, Denver has had forty-eight players selected for a combined total of 118 Pro Bowl appearances. Here are those players:

Player Position Years in Pro Bowl
John Elway QB 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998
Champ Bailey CB 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Steve Atwater S 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1995, 1998
Shannon Sharpe TE 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
Karl Mecklenburg LB/DE 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993
Dennis Smith S 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993
Tom Nalen C 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003
Al Wilson LB 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006
Trevor Pryce DT/DE 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
John Lynch S 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
Terrell Davis RB 1996, 1997, 1998
Ryan Clady T 2009, 2011, 2012
Elvis Dumervil DE 2009, 2011, 2012
Gary Zimmerman T 1994, 1995, 1996
Rod Smith WR 2000, 2001, 2005
Jason Elam K 1995, 1998, 2001
Rulon Jones DE 1985, 1986
Von Miller LB 2011, 2012
Brandon Marshall WR 2008, 2009
Sammy Winder RB 1984, 1986
Brian Dawkins S 2009, 2011
Bill Romanowski LB 1996, 1998
Alfred Williams DE/LB 1996
Mike Horan P 1988
Peyton Manning QB 2012
Mark Schlereth G/C 1998
Tyrone Braxton CB/S 1996
Clinton Portis RB 2003
Deltha O'Neal CB 2001
Anthony Miller WR 1995
Ed McCaffrey WR 1998
Brandon Lloyd WR 2010
Tony E. Jones T/G 1998
Gaston Green RB 1991
Casey Wiegmann C 2008
David Treadwell K 1989
Dwayne Carswell TE 2001
Jake Plummer QB 2005
Glyn Milburn RB 1995
Greg Kragen NT 1989
Bobby Humphrey RB 1990
Ian Gold LB 2001
Detron Smith RB 1999
Michael Brooks LB 1992
Michael Dean Perry DT/DE 1996
Willis McGahee RB 2011
Brian Griese QB 2000
Neil Smith DE 1997



Some players in the Bowlen Era have also been honored with other prestigious awards, such as:

Player Award
John Elway 1987 NFL Most Valuable Player
Mike Croel 1991 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
Terrell Davis

1996 NFL Offensive Player of the Year

1998 NFL Most Valuable Player

1998 NFL Offensive Player of the Year

Clinton Portis
2002 Offensive Rookie of the Year
Von Miller 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
Peyton Manning 2012 NFL Comeback Player of the Year




2011 Von Miller NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
2012 Peyton Manning NFL Comeback Player of the Year

The list of awards could continue on and on -- in fact, there are several pages of them in the Media Guide.

I believe that we all owe a hearty word of thanks to Pat Bowlen for all that he has done to bring success and pride to the Broncos!!!

Go Broncos!!!!

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