Pat Bowlen

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Pat Bowlen
Candid photograph of Bowlen walking on a football sideline wearing blue-grey slacks, a light blue shirt with a red tie and sunglasses.
Bowlen in 2010
Denver Broncos
Position: Principal owner
Personal information
Date of birth: (1944-02-18) February 18, 1944 (age 72)
Place of birth: Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
Career information
High school: Campion Jesuit
College: Oklahoma
Career history
As executive:
Career highlights and awards

Patrick Dennis Bowlen (born February 18, 1944) is the majority owner of the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL). The Bowlen Family, including his two brothers John Bowlen and Bill Bowlen, and sister Marybeth Bowlen, purchased the team from Edgar Kaiser in 1984. He served as the Broncos CEO from his purchase of the club in 1984 until July 2014, when he stepped down as Broncos' CEO due to the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease.[1]

Early life[edit]

Bowlen was born in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, the son of Arvella (née Woods) and Paul Dennis Bowlen, who became a millionaire in the Canadian oil business, founding Regent Drilling as a wildcatter. The oil company is now owned by Pat's brother John.[2] Bowlen is Catholic [3] and his team’s charity raised more than $1 million recently for the Catholic Capuchin order’s ministries to Denver’s poor and homeless.[4] He attended Campion Jesuit Catholic High School[5] and later earned degrees in business (1965) and law (1968) from the University of Oklahoma. The younger Bowlen became wealthy in his own right by becoming a successful lawyer in Edmonton, Alberta. He also worked as an executive for his father's company and as a real estate developer and had major investments in the mining industry.

Bowlen is an initiated member of the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity. He was initiated by the University of Oklahoma, Beta Omicron chapter in 1963. He is a member of the bar association and law society of Alberta, Canada. Bowlen is also one of the largest donors to the University of Denver.

Denver Broncos ownership[edit]

From 1999 to 2008, Bowlen and the Broncos were involved in several legal battles against one-time owner Edgar Kaiser. In 1998, Bowlen agreed to sell retired football legend John Elway a share in the team.[6] When Bowlen let the existence of the offer slip out to Kaiser while both were at the 1999 Bohemian Grove,[7] Kaiser sued, claiming a breach of contract. Kaiser asserted that he had a right of first refusal if any deal is made involving franchise ownership. In 2004, a jury ruled in favor of Kaiser and a Federal judge decreed that Kaiser was entitled to purchase back 10% of the Broncos using the identical purchase terms offered to Elway. Bowlen appealed the original verdict that ruled in favor of Kaiser and won in 2008, as the appellate court ruled that the structure of the Bowlen-Elway deal did not violate the original right of first refusal agreement.[8]

On December 30, 2008, Broncos head coach and Vice President of Football Operations Mike Shanahan was fired by Bowlen after a 14-year tenure as the head coach. Bowlen stated he wanted his team to go in a different direction. He undertook a search over two weeks and eventually chose Josh McDaniels, who at the time was the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. Subsequently, after a losing streak in the 2010 season, McDaniels was fired as head coach of the Broncos.[9] On February 12, 2009, Bowlen appointed Brian Xanders as the team's sole general manager and fired Jim Goodman and Jeff Goodman.

Within two weeks of the end of the 2010-11 regular season, Bowlen and the Broncos had hired former Carolina Panthers' coach John Fox to be their new head coach. Although Bowlen had discussions with Fox before the hiring, new front-office executive John Elway was mostly responsible for the hiring. By late 2009, rumors had begun to emerge that Bowlen had stepped out of the spotlight because of short-term memory loss.[10] He told The Denver Post columnist Woody Paige that his memory wasn't what it used to be and that he couldn't recall details of the Broncos back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the late 1990s. Starting in 2010, Bowlen no longer played a major role in the Broncos' decision making, and Executive VP John Elway and President Joe Ellis assumed control. On July 23, 2014, due to complications with Alzheimer's disease, he officially relinquished control of the team to Joe Ellis.[11]

On November 1, 2015, Bowlen was inducted into the Broncos' Ring of Fame, earning him a bronze plaque that stands on the south side of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.[12]

Since Bowlen acquired the team in 1984, the Broncos have the highest winning percentage of any franchise in the National Football League (334 wins, 212 losses, and 1 tie, for a .612 winning clip), passing the San Francisco 49ers after the 2015 season.

Colorado Crush ownership[edit]

Besides being owner and CEO of the Broncos, Bowlen was also part-owner of the Arena Football League's Colorado Crush. He shared ownership with Denver-based sports mogul Stan Kroenke and legendary Broncos quarterback John Elway. The Crush entered the AFL as an expansion franchise in 2003. After going through a 2-14 season in 2003, the team became a perennial playoff contender and one of the league's top franchises. The Crush won the Arena Football League Championship in 2005. Bowlen has won four championships as a football franchise owner: three Super Bowl titles with the Broncos in 1998, 1999, and 2016 and an Arena Football title in 2005 with the Crush.

Denver Outlaws ownership[edit]

In 2006, Major League Lacrosse decided to expand adding the Denver Outlaws to its league of teams. The Denver Outlaws have been the most winning franchise that Bowlen has ever owned, boasting a regular season win percentage of .690 since their creation. The Outlaws have been to the playoffs every year of their existence except one (2015) and advanced to the championship game five times (2006, 2008, 2009, 2014, and 2016), winning the championship in 2014 and 2016.


External links[edit]