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Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen battling Alzheimer's, hands control of team over to Joe Ellis

This is a sad day for Broncos fans everywhere.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen is battling Alzheimer's disease and as a result is handing over control of the team.

Via Mike Klis and the Denver Post:

Pat Bowlen, one of the most iconic owners in NFL history who helped guide the Broncos to six Super Bowl appearances and two world championships in his 30 years as owner, is relinquishing control of the team as he acknowledges he is dealing with Alzheimer's disease.

Bowlen, 70, has placed his Broncos' ownership in the Pat Bowlen Trust that is controlled by non-family members. Final-say authority with the team is held by Ellis.

Bowlen's long-term goal is for one of his seven children to run the team when they're ready. To be clear, the Broncos will not be put up for sale.

A statement by the Broncos to The Denver Post said the trust was set up by Bowlen more than a decade ago as part of his long-stated desire to keep team ownership in his family.

Statement from Pat's wife Annabel Bowlen:

"As many in the Denver community and around the National Football League have speculated, my husband, Pat, has very bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer's disease for the last few years. He has elected to keep his condition private because he has strongly believed, and often said, 'It's not about me.'

"Pat has always wanted the focus to be solely on the Denver Broncos and the great fans who have supported this team with such passion during his 30 years as owner. My family is deeply saddened that Pat's health no longer allows him to oversee the Broncos, which has led to this public acknowledgment of such a personal health condition."

"On behalf of Pat and the rest of my family, I want to thank all Broncos fans for their overwhelming support and how respectful they continue to be of his privacy. We look forward to sharing many more successful seasons of Denver Broncos football with you."

Official Statement from the Denver Broncos:

"In recent years, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has taken a reduced role with his team while courageously and privately battling Alzheimer's disease.

"The Broncos are very saddened that Mr. Bowlen is no longer able to be part of the team's daily operations due to his condition. We continue to offer our full support, compassion and respect to 'Mr. B,' who has faced Alzheimer's disease with such dignity and strength.

"As Mr. Bowlen focuses on his health, the Broncos have announced changes to their leadership structure that will ensure the long-term stability of the franchise.

"Mr. Bowlen's ownership of the Broncos is held in a trust - the Pat Bowlen Trust - overseen by non-family trustees, with president Joe Ellis continuing to operate the team with full authority on all matters. Plans for this trust were arranged by Mr. Bowlen beginning more than a decade ago as part of his succession plan to keep the Broncos in the Bowlen family.

"Mr. Bowlen's long-term hope is for one of his children to run the Broncos at the appropriate time, and his succession plan will continue to be implemented by our organization in compliance with NFL ownership policies.

"Ellis, who has worked with Mr. Bowlen for nearly 30 years, also has been named the Broncos' chief executive officer and adds those responsibilities to his role as team president. He serves as the club's representation for all league matters.

"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.

"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.

"The Broncos have the utmost appreciation for Mr. Bowlen and are completely focused on adding to his championship legacy with him in the years ahead."

Roger Goodell's statement on Pat Bowlen:

"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."

Mr. Bowlen has owned the Broncos since purchasing the franchise in 1984 from Edgar Kaisar.  Through his efforts, this team has become one of the greatest franchises in all of sports.  There will be time to discuss the great successes the Broncos have had under Pat Bowlen.  There will be time to speculate where we go from here.  But for now a great man has passed the torch and is in a battle for his life. It is our time to grieve.

Thank you Mr. Bowlen.

There are no words to express the collective gratitude of an entire region.  The Broncos have brought so much joy and fellowship to millions of people, and it was all made possible through the vision Pat has molded and executed throughout the years.

Some of my greatest memories as a human being revolve around this great sport and the team I love.  I know you feel the same.

Pat Bowlen will never be forgotten.  Not in Broncos Country.

Thank you Pat Bowlen, you are the greatest owner in all of sports.