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Pat Bowlen and The Denver Broncos: 27 Years Of Awesome

On this day back in 1984, Pat Bowlen purchased the Denver Broncos from Edgar Kaiser Jr., saving the franchise from possible bankruptcy. Two days later, he was introduced as the majority owner of the Denver Broncos and that announcement triggered a new era in franchise history. 27 years have elapsed and in that time his tenure of ownership is permanently ingrained as one of the most successful of any team in the history of the NFL. If the Broncos are the Soul of the city of Denver then Pat Bowlen, as caretaker of the Broncos, is the Heart. The Mile High City has gone from a sleepy little "Cow Town" to the home of one of the crown jewels of Sports Franchises. Whether measured by the amount of wins and championships, attendance, national television exposure or reputation, there are few parallels in the world of professional sports. Let's take a look at the effect Mr. Bowlen has had so far in his tenure as the CEO of the Denver Broncos NFL Franchise.

Mr. Bowlen immediately put his stamp on the Broncos, establishing a solid administration and creating a positive atmosphere that has been a major factor in the team’s success both on and off the field.

One of the first things he did as owner, was create the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in order to pay tribute to former players and administrators who played significant roles in the franchise’s history. The inaugural class in 1984 included "The Franchise" Running Back Floyd Little (1967-1975), Defensive End Rich "Tombstone" Jackson (1967-1972), Wide Receiver Lionel Taylor (1960-1966) and Safety Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin (1960-1966). Today, the are 22 names on the Level 5 facade, with the most recent being Shannon Sharpe, who was honored in 2009.

That first year, after a 1-1 start, the Broncos launched an impressive 10-game winning streak establishing a new franchise record. They would go on to win the AFC West with a 13-3 record, as John Elway passed for 2,598 yards, Sammy Winder rushed for 1,153 yards and Steve Watson collected 1,170 receiving yards. However, the Broncos season would end in disappointment with a 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Mile High Stadium. Still, with that rapid success, the murmurs of bankruptcy dissipated and a new Era was born.

The Denver Broncos have been one of the NFL’s most successful teams for more than two decades and that is the result of the leadership of Pat Bowlen and the high standard that he sets for himself. Thirteen of the 14 best years in team history have come during Mr. Bowlen’s ownership. No AFC club has won more games than the Broncos. In fact, Denver’s 266 victories during that time rank second in the entire league. Their five Super Bowl appearances, including back-to-back Super Bowl wins during the 1997-98 seasons, represent the second-highest total in the NFL.

The Broncos' 255 national television appearances, including a league-high 152 prime-time games as well as 103 appearances as part of network doubleheaders, are without equal. The Broncos have led the NFL in attendance during Mr. Bowlen’s 26-year period as owner, drawing nearly 18 million fans to their home games from 1984-2009. The 221 consecutive sold out regular season and postseason games (26) are the 3rd-longest streak in the league and a testament to what the Broncos mean to the State of Colorado.

In 16 out of those 27 seasons as the owner, the Broncos had a winning record, including:

  • 2 League Championships - 1997, 1998
  • 5 AFC Championships - 1986, 1987, 1989, 1997, 1998
  • 8 AFC West Division Championships - 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 2005
  • 12 Playoff Appearances 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004

The Broncos are on their 6th head coach during the Bowlen Era. Dan Reeves, Wade Phillips, Mike Shanahan, Josh McDaniels, Eric Studesville and current coach John Fox are each part of that history.

  • The Broncos have the best home record 163-58 (.738) in pro football over the past 26 years.
  • Denver was the only AFC franchise to make three Super Bowl appearances in the 1980s.
  • The Broncos won an NFL-record seven postseason games in a two-year period (1997-1998).
  • The Broncos had an NFL-record 46 wins over a three-year period (1996-1998), the most in football history.
  • Their best regular season record was in 1998, when the Broncos were 14-2 and repeated as World Champions.

Pat Bowlen also has enjoyed tremendous off-the-field success as well.

• He was a key figure in securing the league’s labor and TV contracts. He is currently the co-chair of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee and remains a member of the prestigious NFL Broadcasting Committee, which he formerly chaired. In his role as Chair of the NFL Broadcast Committee, Mr. Bowlen was responsible for the negotiations on the NFL’s $18 billion TV contract, the most lucrative single-sport contract in history.

• He also is on the NFL Compensation Committee, the NFL Network Operations Committee, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee and Los Angeles Working Group Committee.

• He built the Broncos’ headquarters, named the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Centre (after his father), a 90,000 square foot modern office and training facility located on the team’s 13.5 acre complex in Dove Valley, Arapahoe County. The Broncos moved into the building on March 5, 1990. Over the past six offseasons, an extensive remodeling and expansion plan has taken place, assuring that the team headquarters would remain at the top level of NFL training facilities.

• Mr. Bowlen also ushered in a new era in Denver Broncos football history in 2001 when the state-of-the-art INVESCO Field at Mile High opened. Mr. Bowlen contributed more than $150 million to the construction of the new stadium.

As a special gift to the fans and the city of Denver, Bowlen presented "The Broncos," a sculpture created in Florence, Italy, by Sergio Benvenuti. The sculpture consists of five Broncos, one mare and one colt. They are larger than life (1-1/2 times life-size in fact). The horses are depicted running up hill in an alpine mountain setting. It includes a water feature to resemble a raging stream. The water is pumped at 850 gallons per minute and is slightly heated so in the winter, steam rises from the stream. Special lighting illuminates the sculpture at night. This wonderful gift is located on the southern walkway approach to the stadium and is an awesome sight to behold.

Pat Bowlen's status and reputation as an owner were recognized within the state on April 10, 2007, when he was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

Legend has it, that Mr. Bowlen celebrated his becoming majority owner of the Denver Broncos from March 17th through his press conference on the 23rd, and that's why we now have St. Patrick's day.

Go Broncos!