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Dear HOF: Don’t f@$k this up (again)

Pat Bowlen should move one step closer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after the contributors committee meets on Thursday.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony

In less than 24 hours, Pat Bowlen will take his closest step yet to the Pro Football Hall Fame.

Yes, he is the owner of the Denver Broncos and anyone associated with the franchise who wants to get in this so-called museum has to buy a ticket. And we know how the contributors committee has screwed Mr. B the last two years.

Despite our instincts to expect the worst, Bowlen will be one of the two candidates to move forward to the full selection committee for vote the Saturday before the Super Bowl. The five members of the contributors committee who will make that decision, according to the Hall of Fame: Howard Balzer, Clark Judge, Peter King, Jim Trotter and Charean Williams. There is still a chance this group gets it wrong (again), but this year seems different.

So instead of the usual “state the case” stories MHR has done the last few years, as we did last year with this series, we’re taking a different path this year. What follows is staff members’ sharing what makes Mr. B so special.

Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann

There is a long list of accomplishments tied to Pat Bowlen’s name that have improved not only the Denver Broncos but the entire NFL. And whether it was bringing in more TV contracts for the league or building better facilities for his players, it has always been clear how much Bowlen loves his team and loves the sport. The thing I love the most about Mr. B, though, is that at the core of his desire to make the team better was an intense competitive spirit that wanted the best for his players because he wanted them to be the best. In his Ring of Fame induction speech for the beloved owner, Joe Ellis said Bowlen “will be the first to tell you that he is defined by Super Bowl wins and winning games. That’s how you achieve success in this business. It’s not about dollar signs. It’s about wins on the field. That was the ultimate win, obviously.” So when he was asked what to put in his ROF bio, Bowlen responded, “Just put in there that I want to be the best at everything we do.

Tim Lynch

My favorite thing Pat Bowlen ever did was him hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and saying, “This one’s for John!” knowing that journey the franchise took to give John Elway the talent around him to win a championship after so many failed attempts earlier in his career. Then to follow it up the next year with a, “This one’s for You!” was perfect.

Sometimes things just have a way of working out. In 2015, Elway and Broncos Country were able to return the favor and the honor when Elway held up another Lombardi Trophy and yelled, “This one’s for PAT!”.

No man has ever embodied the spirit of what the Broncos franchise should mean to a city and fanbase than Pat Bowlen. Time to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame where he most certainly belongs.


As a young fan back in the 1980s and ‘90s, I couldn’t have told you who owned the Denver Broncos. It just isn’t something most fans particularly care about. But as I grew older (and maybe a little wiser), I started noticing something about our Broncos: we have a LOT more success than most franchises do year-to-year. As you get more and more into the game, you start listening more to the media interviews and one name will come up time and time again: Pat Bowlen.

Bowlen’s leadership is a big part of what is THE most impressive three-plus decades span of success in all of professional sports. The team has more Super Bowl appearances than they do losing seasons under his ownership. He hasn’t been an owner that has just signed the checks. His talk has consistently been about what is going to win football games. It was about getting to the promised land for so many years. His record of success alone should have had him in the Hall of Fame three years ago.

Casey Barrett

I was born in the ‘80s. I grew up watching Broncos football. As a child, Mr. B was the guy in the awesome fur coat. When we got into the ‘90s, he was the guy wearing the nice suit, and almost always with an orange tie. This sticks out to me, because he was there. He was always there, either in the owner’s box during the game and on the field near the end of the game, he was present and involved with the company he owned. His quote after the Super Bowl XXXII win about being for John (Elway) showed almost everything you needed to know about his character and class. They walked the same path together, building an organization meant to win. After suffering heavy losses in three Super Bowls, Mr. B never gave up on Elway or his organization, or his city. It paid off. Finding the right pieces, from the field, to the front office to bring back-to-back championships to Denver will forever remind me that getting to where you want to go does not require a complete overhaul of everything. You can tweak other things that may make you look similar to what you once were, but now you’re better. All of this I felt for Mr. B before I even knew how much he truly contributed to the league, his team, and the city of Denver (and before PFM).

It’s disgraceful that its taken this long for Mr. B to get into the HOF. He should have been in years ago.

Fuck Jerry Jones.

Christopher Hart

It’s hard for me to judge what my favorite thing about Pat Bowlen is, but I will say this. He is the best owner in the National Football League. What he has done for the league is unprecedented and it helped grow the sport in an unparalleled and unique fashion. It’s very uncommon for an owner in any sport to have more title appearances leading a franchise as opposed to losing seasons. How many owners can make that claim? I know Pat Bowlen can. Above all else, Bowlen is a first-class person who runs the best football organization the league has ever seen. Players, coaches and employees past and present always laud him for “taking care” of everyone in the building. Everyone who works for him plays an integral role in the success of the franchise — everyone is treated like family. It’s a privilege and an honor to be a fan of the Denver Broncos and I’m grateful that they have had such a tremendous owner for all these years.

Adam Malnati

As a fan of the Denver Broncos, there is no better feeling than to know that for most of my life Pat Bowlen was around to expect nothing less than winning. Broncos fans have been spoiled by a man who wanted nothing more than to put a winning product on the field. In his iconic fur coats and sunglasses, he brought style to the Broncos at every turn.

In perhaps his most iconic moment in Denver, he raised the Lombardi Trophy, which we all had longed for for so long, and said words that many of us felt in our hearts. “This one’s for John!” It still echoes in my heart. And then to have him get the chance to raise it again the following year, he acknowledged us. It was incredible to feel as if he knew what this franchise meant to me and so many others.

As an owner, he put his team’s fans first. With all of the impactful deals made, and negotiations for TV deals, Pat Bowlen made his mark on the league in innumerable ways. He’s more than just a Hall-of-Famer. He is the greatest owner in the history of our sport.

Pete Baron

Although it’s hard to have much to say about an owner who was as hands off yet hands on as it gets, I think it’s important to remember a few things about Pat Bowlen. He put winning first by hiring the best team around him so he didn’t have to mettle. I’ve never met him, so I don’t know him personally, but I’ve heard stories from people like Shannon Sharpe, John Elway, Mark Schlereth about him in the ‘90s when he was still doing triathlons and they’d walk in the weight room and he’d be working out. I’ve even heard him playing pranks on players and coaches. I wish that man who existed was still with us to enjoy this nomination process and honor of his eventual induction. I hope against hope and wish against wish that he has some clear and conscious moments along this journey to appreciate it and remember what an honor this is. And I hope when its his nomination day and the day to have his Gold Jacket, that he remembers it and is proud of his accomplishments, his life and his legacy.

Ian St. Clair

As a fan of the Broncos, we know how massive Mr. B is to this franchise (as the stories above highlight). Not until I had the opportunity to interview longtime PR director and current historian/consultant Jim Saccomano, team president Joe Ellis and legendary safety Steve Atwater last August, did I fully appreciate just how massive. Bowlen impacted all three men in a very personal way. To hear them talk about him, but also the emotion they felt when they did, impacted me in a deep way. And that’s the case with everyone who worked or played for him. That’s special. That’s rare, especially in the world of professional sports.

You cannot write the story of the Broncos or NFL without Mr. B. The time has come to get him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.