There are several people who have been integral to the success of the Denver Broncos. A simple glance at the Ring of Fame is all it takes to see legendary names that brought Denver to the promised land.
While John Elway, Peyton Manning, Mike Shanahan, Terrell Davis, and Floyd Little are names with fabled stories for the Broncos, there is one man above all others who was the cornerstone of the success of the franchise. Pat Bowlen.
Obviously, this isn’t in dispute, but the ownership issue is. As we examine the history of the team, and we finally get to John Elway saying, “This one’s for Pat!” it’s hard to imagine the fall that has occurred since.
When Ian St. Clair and I had Cecil Lammey on the MHR Radio Podcast, we brought up the ownership issue. Since Mr. B. passed away, the questions about what was going to happen with the team have only become louder, and the answers only murkier.
So join me in a pleasant fiction. Like Elway becoming the GM and bringing in Manning brought about one of the greatest eras in team history, could Manning be the light at the end of the tunnel again?
According to Cecil, it doesn’t feel like fiction.
As the Broncos continue their descent into the pit of despair that is NFL irrelevancy, every move they make is a bandaid covering a mortal wound. The Bowlen family is likely going to be forced to sell. A sad end to one of the most successful eras in sports history means the need for a new owner. That despair could slowly turn to delight if things fall into place.
How could this happen? Well, first of all, Manning still lives in Denver. He loves it in Colorado. Manning is slowly replacing Elway as that guy Coloradans default to when they can’t remember the name of the current governor.
Manning also carries name recognition. When new owners come into the NFL, they have to be approved by the rest of the owners. Can you even imagine a scenario where they say no to PFM?
That name also brings investors. Not just Brad Paisley, but big investors who would be happy to back Peyton, and let him be the face of the franchise. On top of that, Manning’s wife Ashley is a part owner of the Memphis Grizzlies. They have an understanding of what it means to own a sports franchise.
Manning also understands the demands of Mr. B. He saw it everyday when he walked into the locker room. “I want us to be No. 1 in everything.” Not just lip service, but a demand from his coaches, players, and staff to strive to be the best in all aspects of the game. A belief that that effort began at the top, with the owner, and extended to everyone within the walls of Dove Valley.
Some in Broncos Country have begged for Manning to return to the team as a GM. It seems clear that Manning has set himself up for something much bigger. To paraphrase Cecil, Manning is thinking in billions.
Could those billions be the first step in a return to glory for Broncos Country? It may seem like an impossible dream, but sometimes dreams really do come true.