DENVER – The Denver Broncos announced early Friday morning that owner Pat Bowlen died following a years-long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 75 years old.
Bowlen had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease since 2013 and relinquished day to day operations the following year. Under his ownership, the Broncos reached the Super Bowl seven times, winning titles in 1997, 1998 and 2015.
He purchased the team in 1984 and will be posthumously enshrined the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 3rd in Canton, Ohio.
Statement from the Bowlen family on Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen:
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) June 14, 2019
“We are saddened to inform everyone that our beloved husband and father, Pat Bowlen, passed on to the next chapter of his life late Thursday night peacefully at home surrounded by family. His soul will live on through the Broncos, the city of Denver and all of our fans.
“Our family wishes to express its sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support we have received in recent years. Heaven got a little bit more orange and blue tonight.”
Bowlen was well-known for his stellar record as an owner, but also his reputation with players, staff and the Denver community was second to none.
According to the Broncos, Bowlen donated more than $35 million to charitable organizations in the Denver area since he started Denver Broncos Charities.
Under Bowlen’s leadership, the team also opened its own branch of the Boys & Girls Club of America in 2003, a first for any professional sports franchise.
A statement from the Bowlen family read, “More important than being an incredible owner, Pat Bowlen was an incredible human being,”
As an owner, the Broncos largely avoided losing seasons under his leadership. Since he took over in 1984, only the New England Patriots, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers had a better winning percentage.
Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis, who has taken over day-to-day operations of the franchise since Bowlen’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was announced in 2014, issued a statement of his own in response to the news.
“Pat Bowlen was the heart and soul of the Denver Broncos. Not only was Pat a Hall of Fame owner—He was a Hall of Fame person. His competitiveness, kindness and humility are the qualities that I will always remember. Even during his battle with Alzheimer’s, you could still see that same strength and dignity in Pat that he brought to the office every single day for more than 30 years.”
Bowlen is survived by his wife Annabel and his seven children. Details about a memorial service have not yet been announced.