As the old Southern adage goes, “Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame contributors committee didn’t screw this up (again). Howard Balzer, Clark Judge, Peter King, Jim Trotter and Charean Williams actually chose Pat Bowlen as one of its two candidates to move on to the full selection committee.
Yes, really. They honestly did.
Forgive Denver Broncos fans if they were skeptical this would turn into the slam dunk it ended up being. When it comes to members of the organization and the Hall of Fame, there is more than ample reason to feel that way.
Look no further than last week’s snub of Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar. Consider the last two years when, in the same situation, the contributors committee failed in epic fashion — see Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Bobby Bethard.
As we awaited the announcement, the MHR staff skepticism was so thick that we were all predicting a similar result. “What happens when they f@$k this up?” we were all asking.
Yet the contributors committee somehow bucked its trend of screwing Bowlen and finally got it right. Better late than never, I suppose. The Broncos owner now moves on to the full selection committee for vote the day before Super Bowl LIII. There is still a chance he doesn’t make it, but clearing this initial hurdle is the closest he’s gotten so far to being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt is the other contributor finalist to join Bowlen. Since two candidates move ahead, they don’t compete for each other to get inducted. All that is needed for both to get in is 80 percent of the vote.
This is huge for this franchise, the Bowlen family and Mr. B.
What he means to the organization, the NFL, the city of Denver and state of Colorado is well documented. But the positive impact he’s had, and continues to have, on so many lives as owner can’t be stated enough.
The stories shared with me by multiple Broncos legends over the last few years have impacted me in a deep way. On the MHR Radio Podcast prior to the Chicago Bears preseason game, Broncos legendary safety Steve Atwater told Adam Malnati and me a story about the most recent time he saw Mr. B, and how he lit up and slapped him on the shoulder. The look on Steve’s face and the emotion in his voice, summed up perfectly everything fans need to know about Bowlen.
Mr. B would never want this incredible honor, and might shake his head at the amount of time so many people spent trying to make it come to fruition. He wouldn’t want so many people putting the focus on him.
Instead, Bowlen would tell us to concentrate on Gradishar, Atwater, Louis Wright, Karl Mecklenburg, Tom Nalen, Rod Smith and all of the other Broncos players who should already have their place in the Hall of Fame.
That’s just another example of how special he is.
To the five people who finally got this right — thank you.
In the emotional words of John Elway after the victory in Super Bowl 50: “This one’s for Pat!”