DENVER – The Denver Broncos opened up their house to fans from around Colorado for a public tribute to owner Pat Bowlen. Mr. B, as he was affectionately known within the Broncos organization, lost his battle with Alzheimer’s last week.
The team opened up the stadium’s United West Clubhouse to fans on Tuesday to come pay their respects and share their football memories. Members of the Bowlen family greeted people in a reception line as live piano music filled room.
“We’re die-hard Bronco-fans, my whole family, all the way down to the smallest and we just wanted to say thank you to him and his family, ” said Carlos Vargas who brought his grandson Nathaniel to the event.
Several items of memorabilia were put on display along with the Broncos three Super Bowl Trophies, Mr. Bowlen’s desk and other reminders of his 35 years of leading the organization.
“It’s awesome that they do things like this for their fans,” said Pedro Coria who was visiting with his son Isaac.
“Looking at all this stuff is cool,” Isaac said. “I’ve never been to a football stadium before, so it makes it even cooler.”
While it may have been the first trip to Broncos stadium for some fans, others have come many times.
“I haven’t missed a game since ’69,” said Becky McKernan.
Her late husband Tim was widely known as the Barrel Man who came to the stadium wearing his cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a brightly decorated barrel. Tim passed away in 2009.
“I truly wanted to come out and pay my respects to Mrs. Bowlen,” McKernan said. “In my heart, I know where she’s at, you’re just in another world right now.”
Bowlen will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with star defensive back Champ Bailey during the annual induction ceremony this August. The Broncos will play the Atlanta Falcons in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIII for the Hall of Fame Game on August 1.
Coria hopes the emotion of this moment will carry the team through the season ahead.
“We’re all looking forward to this season and hopefully we’ll do something really special for him.”