The Mile High Report Hall of Fame Sportsperson of the Year award goes to an exemplary current or former Broncos person who demonstrated leadership, community service, and you guessed it, sportsmanship.
The inaugural winner of MHR's Sportsman Of The Year award is none other than its beloved owner, Pat Bowlen, who came to the Denver Broncos in 1984 and has been making it a top-notch franchise in every way possible ever since.
- He reached his 300th win as an owner in November of 2013, becoming the first owner in NFL history to achieve 300 wins in 30 years.
- He is the only owner in the Top 10 wins club with under 40 years of ownership with his club - that means he has 10 years to destroy all the records.
- He was recognized with Denver's prestigious Mizel Institute Community Enrichment Award in 2013, particularly for being the Chairman of the Board for Broncos Charities, which has donated over $25 million to good community causes over the past 20 years. In addition, in the light of the terrible state of the Rockies and the Monfort ownership, it adds to my appreciation of Bowlen, who has always taken championships more seriously than ticket sales. That's a definition of sportsmanship to me - to be more concerned about the state of his team's success on the field than in the ticket booth. It's a privilege to be a fan of this man's team.
Nomination for Bowlen:
I wrote Bowlen's nomination, highlighting these facts:
- Kyle Montgomery
It would not be hard to convince a Broncos fan that Pat Bowlen is the man responsible for taking the Denver Broncos from a good NFL team to the best franchise in the league over the last three decades. It probably wouldn't even be tough to convince a rival team of that.
The Broncos have become one of the league's winningest franchises with Bowlen at the helm as well as one of the most respected by players, coaches, owners and fans alike.
Under Bowlen, the Broncos have won 61 percent of their games, making the playoffs 17 times, winning the AFC West 12 times, appearing in six Super Bowls and coming away with two Lombardi trophies.
It's such as impressive resumé over such a long period of time, it's easy to take it for granted. The Broncos themselves are recognizing their owner's true gift to the team and city by inducting him this fall into the Ring of Fame, something Bowlen created the year he took over as a way to honor former players and administrators who played a significant role in the team's history.
"He's brought us all together," Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little said when the Ring of Fame Plaza was unveiled. "He honors and respects all players that played for the Broncos."
During his tenure, the Broncos have had the best home record of any team (181-67) as well as the NFL's best home attendance, selling out every home game since Bowlen took over as owner in 1984.
The Broncos were also recognized as "America's Team" by a Harris Poll last October, knocking off the Dallas Cowboys, which is no doubt because of Bowlen's leadership the last three decades building a team with talented but humble stars - exactly like Bowlen himself.
When you talk about contributors to pro football, for what Pat Bowlen has meant to this league & team, his next stop should be Canton, Ohio!— John Elway (@johnelway) May 13, 2015
Mr. B's success goes past the Denver Broncos and into the NFL itself. As chair of the NFL Broadcast Committee, Bowlen has helped push the NFL to where it is now. Not only is pro football America's top sport, but it is America's top televised program.
Bowlen's presence has helped the league extend its Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners over the years.
Bowlen also has helped the league grow beyond the American border. He has taken his Denver Broncos to Barcelona, Berlin, London, Mexico City, Sydney and Tokyo.
But the legacy that is Pat Bowlen goes far beyond win/loss records and statistics. It was a culture of winning and success via strong work ethic that will truly define Bowlen's legacy here.
After Bowlen announced last summer he was stepping down due to suffering from Alzheimer's, ESPN's Jeff Legwold wrote a fitting summary of how Bowlen viewed his leadership with the Broncos. It was far more a father/son relationship between him and his staff and players and much less an owner/franchise one.
"Bowlen would always enthusiastically and without hesitation pick the Broncos to win the title game in the coming year in what used to be annual postseason sit-downs. Bowlen liked star power. He liked success. He liked the Broncos to be at the front of the line."
And that's what he strived to provide every year - the chance to be at the front of the line.
Under Bowlen's direction, the Broncos built a new stadium, added an indoor practice facility and just recently replaced the grass on Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Broncos' president Joe Ellis recently noted that all those improvements stemmed from Bowlen's desire to give his team the best chance to win.
"He just had tremendous competitive fire," Ellis said, noting that when Bowlen was asked what to put in his Ring Of Fame bio, his response was "just put in there that I want to be the best at everything we do."
Mr. Bowlen deserves to be elected to Mile High Report's Hall Of Fame and the Denver Broncos Ring Of Fame. Like Elway said, Bowlen's next stop should be in Caton, Ohio - home of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
Pat Bowlen's achievements:
- Two Super Bowls (XXXII and XXXIII)
- Six AFC Championships
- 12 AFC West Championships
- 17 playoff appearances
- The Broncos have sold out every game during Bowlen’s ownership for a streak of 257 consecutive games (regular season and postseason) that is the third-longest active streak in the league.
- Denver has led the NFL in attendance during Bowlen’s 30-year period as owner. The Broncos have drawn nearly 20 million fans to their home games from 1984-2014, marking the highest total in the NFL.
- Bowlen ushered in a new era in Denver Broncos football history in 2001 when the state-of-the-art Sports Authority Field at Mile High opened. Bowlen contributed more than $150 million to the construction of the new stadium and helped fund a $30 million upgrade during the 2013 offseason.
- The Broncos recognized as "America's Team" in 2014
- Elected to the Denver Broncos Ring Of Fame in 2015