Beth Bowlen Wallace

AFC Notes: Bowlen, Broncos, Cabinda, Raiders, Anderson, Jets

Recently we broke down the latest drama in the Bowlen family regarding ownership of the Broncos. Since then, even more information has come pouring in with a pair of new reports. Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic went through the entire 21-page lawsuit filed by owner Pat Bowlen‘s brother Bill, and broke down all of the complaints. Essentially, Bill is challenging the legitimacy of the trust that has been running the Broncos, by claiming the trust was formed after Pat had already lost his ability to act as his own attorney. Jhabvala writes that the filing “may only be [the] start of [a] messy battle for control” of the team.

Separately, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post reports that Bill’s legal team is hoping to settle the dispute outside of the court system. Bill’s lawyers said their hope is to have “discussions with the trustees and their attorneys” and avoid a legal resolution. It’s unclear what their endgame is, as they don’t likely have much legal standing due to Bill selling his remaining shares in the team back in 2002. Bill is reportedly working with one of Pat’s daughters, Beth Bowlen Wallace, in their quest to take ownership over. There should be even more details in the coming days.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Former Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda didn’t make the Raiders out of training camp, but the team remained high on him. They signed him to the practice squad, and now Oakland apparently counting on him to play a major role in their defense moving forward, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic. Tafur writes that “all indications” are Cabinda is going to play a heavy amount of snaps this weekend against the Colts. The Raiders cut veteran Derrick Johnson recently, and Tafur writes they did so in large part because they believe in Cabinda.
  • Robby Anderson has started to find a groove recently and form a connection with Sam Darnold, but the Jets receiver looks like he’ll be sidelined this week against the Bears. Anderson is dealing with an ankle sprain, and has been downgraded to doubtful for the game. With Quincy Enunwa, also out, the Jets’ receiving corp will be very thin and New York will likely have to lean heavily on recent free-agent signee Rishard Matthews.
  • In case you missed it, the Texans worked out receiver Brice Butler earlier today in the wake of Will Fuller‘s ACL tear.

Latest On Broncos Ownership Situation

The ownership of the Broncos has been a hotly contested issue for years now, and it appears the fighting between various members of the Bowlen family might finally be reaching a boiling point. Owner Pat Bowlen has been unable to manage the team for a while now as he suffers from Alzheimer’s, and now Pat’s younger brother Bill Bowlen is suing the trust in charge of the team, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post.

The team had been placed into the trust, led by Broncos CEO Joe Ellis, which has been taking a very slow years-long approach to crowning a new controlling owner, in July of 2014. The battle within the family had been playing out mostly behind the scenes until recently, when it spilled out into the press. Just last week Bowlen’s 28-year-old daughter, Brittany Bowlen, confirmed her long-rumored desire to eventually take over the team. Some league executives and members of the Broncos organization are reportedly most bullish on her prospects as a future owner.

A different one of Bowlen’s daughters Beth Bowlen Wallace, 47, came out a few months ago and criticized Ellis for dragging his feet and said she wanted control of the team. Ellis responded by saying “we have determined that she is not capable or qualified at this time” in regard to Beth. Now Bill is suing the trust, asking the court to remove Ellis and the other members of the trust “due to their failure to uphold Pat Bowlen’s wishes and act in the best interest of Pat Bowlen, his family and the Broncos”, according to O’Halloran.

Troy Renck of Denver 7 tweets “Bill Bowlen has not had stake in Broncos for years” after selling his shares to Pat back in 2002 and writes that he doesn’t “see how he would have any enforceable right in this matter.” Renck also tweeted out the official response from the trust, which states that Bill is working with the same lawyers as Beth Bowlen Wallace. It appears as if Beth and Bill are working together to try and acquire control of the team before it is handed over to Brittany, who seems to be the most likely and preferred successor at this point.

It’s a messy situation, and one that has had a ripple effect in the front office. It’s thrown the team into limbo, and has contributed greatly to the job security of GM John Elway, as no one really has the authority to fire him currently. We should know more about the lawsuit soon, and it will be a very interesting story to watch play out.

Brittany Bowlen Confirms Interest In Becoming Broncos’ Controlling Owner

More clarity’s emerging on the Broncos’ future. Brittany Bowlen had yet to make a comment about a desire to become the Broncos’ controlling owner but did so Saturday night.

I do have ambitions and goals to one day be controlling owner of the Denver Broncos,” Bowlen said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Brittany Bowlen, 28, has been viewed as the frontrunner to succeed her father for a while now. Some members of the Broncos organization and some in the league office have high hopes for Brittany Bowlen’s ability to thrive in this role, in the event she ends up as her father’s long-term successor, per Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter).

However, Brittany Bowlen acknowledges she’s not ready for such a role just yet, telling Jhabvala, “I’m not there yet, but I really believe I can get there” one day. Brittany Bowlen (video link via Denver7’s Troy Renck) does not have a timetable for a potential ascent to the position her father made famous.

While Brittany Bowlen is viewed as the heir apparent, Beth Bowlen Wallace has expressed desire to become the franchise’s controlling owner. Wallace, 47, does not have the same support her younger sister does. Broncos president Joe Ellis, a member of the Pat Bowlen Trust, said earlier this year Wallace is not qualified to become the team’s controlling owner.

Pat Bowlen’s been battling Alzheimer’s for years. His wife Annabel now is as well. Pat mentioned Brittany as the only one of his seven children whom he believed could take over the Broncos as controlling owner. Naturally, Wallace disagrees with this and believes she’s met the criteria set forth by the trustees, a group that features Ellis as its most prominent member. But with Brittany revealing she is interested in this lofty position, Wallace’s hopes in rising to this role could well take a hit.

Beth Bowlen Wallace Responds To Joe Ellis’ Remarks

On Thursday, Beth Bowlen Wallace, one of Pat Bowlen‘s seven children, went public with her desire to become the controlling owner of the Broncos when it comes time for the Pat Bowlen Trust to sign over that role. She said, “I have completed the criteria laid out by the trustees, so I felt it was a good time to come out and express my interest and desire to be a part of the organization again.”

Bowlen, the beloved former owner of the Broncos, ceded control of the franchise to the Trust in 2014 due to his ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The Trust, which is comprised of team president Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Sliva, and Denver attorney Mary Kelly, is currently handling day-to-day operations, and one of its primary functions is to facilitate the equal transfer of ownership to each of Bowlen’s seven children (from two different marriages) when Bowlen passes away. However, only one of those children will serve as controlling owner, and Ellis has full authority to sell the team to an outside party if such a sale is in the best interest of the children and the team. As such, Ellis is holding all the cards, and as Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post pointed out, he has the full support of the league, as the NFL granted a five-year extension to Ellis as controlling owner delegee in 2017.

So, when Wallace made her wishes known, Ellis was quick to respond, saying, “As trustees honoring the clear wishes of Pat, we have thoroughly evaluated whether Beth is capable of succeeding her father as controlling owner. We have determined that she is not capable or qualified at this time.”

The Trust has a list of criteria to help determine who the next controlling owner will be, and back in January, we learned that only Wallace, 47, and Brittany Bowlen, 28, were the only two Bowlen children who were technically on track to meet those criteria.

Ellis, though, clearly feels that Wallace is not a viable candidate for the job, and Kiszla noted that her efforts to create a public “showdown” with the trustees felt like something of a Hail Mary, especially in light of the fact that Brittany Bowlen has been seen as the frontrunner for some time. In fact, longtime Denver Post columnist Woody Paige says that Brittany Bowlen was the only child that Pat Bowlen ever mentioned as a potential successor (Twitter link via Troy Renck of Denver7 ABC).

But Wallace is not going down without a fight. As Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post writes, Wallace responded to Ellis’ comments by saying, “I am disappointed and disagree with the inaccurate comments made by the trustees. While I can certainly respond to each of those statements, I don’t believe that will be productive. I want to do what is in the best interests of my family, the team and Denver fans. I care deeply for my entire family and I would never do anything to create divisiveness in the family. It remains my sincere hope that I, together with my advisers, can sit down with the trustees and their advisors to resolve this situation. The fans and league deserve this, and we have repeatedly offered to meet with the trustees to accomplish this objective. Therefore, I will not respond to their inaccurate statements at this time.”

After Wallace went public, Broncos GM John Elway addressed the situation by reaffirming his faith in, and support of, Ellis. Brittany Bowlen, meanwhile, has not offered any public comment as of yet, which is probably just as well for her.

Until just a couple of days ago, it looked as if there was little controversy surrounding how the Broncos are being run. Now, though, there is a chance this could get ugly, and as Kiszla notes, another disappointing season on the field in 2018 will only amplify the questions and concerns about fissures in the Bowlen family business.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Beth Bowlen “Not Qualified” To Be Broncos Controlling Owner

Beth Bowlen, the second-oldest child of former Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, has informed Broncos ownership that she is interested in taking over as controlling owner of the team. However, The Pat Bowlen Trust, set up following the owner’s retirement in 2014 from Alzheimer’s disease, told the younger Bowlen that she is not qualified for the position, Nicki Jhabvala writes in an in-depth piece for The Athletic

“I have completed the criteria laid out by the trustees, so I felt it was a good time to come out and express my interest and desire to be a part of the organization again,” Bowlen told The Athletic.

Trust member and team president/CEO Joe Ellis released a more in-depth statement, which said that Beth Bowlen was not in the original leadership plans set out by Pat before his retirement.

“Pat did not designate Beth as a trustee or appoint her to a leadership position, nor did he instruct the trustees to specifically mentor her. He made it clear that his children were not automatically entitled to a role with the team and that they would have to earn that opportunity through their accomplishments, qualifications and character.

“As trustees honoring the clear wishes of Pat, we have thoroughly evaluated whether Beth is capable of succeeding her father as controlling owner. We have determined that she is not capable or qualified at this time.”

Among the qualifications set aside for the successor, Jhabvala mentions “A bachelor’s degree paired with an MBA, J.D. or other advanced business-related degree was one. So was at least five years of “senior management experience” with the NFL, the Broncos or the Stadium Manage Company (SMC), the organization that runs the team’s stadium in Denver.

Ellis also mentioned that Beth Bowlen has declined to meet with the trust for the last two years to discuss her qualifications. She has reportedly given the trust her succession plan which would include a mentorship program with the team’s front office before growing to include each of the other six Bowlen children.

The trust was formed more than a decade before the owner’s diagnosis and includes, along with Ellis, team counsel Rich Slivka and Denver attorney Mary Kelly. Ellis represents the team at league functions.

The plan is still for a member of the Bowlen Family, which has owned the Broncos since 1984, to take over the reins. Brittany Bowlen, 28, considered by many the frontrunner for the job, has yet to comment on the new situation, as 9 News’ Mike Klis tweets. Jhabvala notes a quote from Ellis in 2016, “When a child emerges that has the capability and has earned the right to have that job and take over their father’s chair, the three trustees will determine that.

 

 

Latest On Broncos’ Ownership Plans

In July 2014, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen signed over control of the club due to his ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s disease. At the time, we knew only that the three trustees of the Pat Bowlen Trust — team president Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Sliva, and Denver attorney Mary Kelly — would handle day-to-day operations, with Ellis serving as the Controlling Owner Delegee/CEO who has full authority to make final decisions for the team.

Pat Bowlen (vertical)

In a piece that is well worth a read, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post lends a little more clarity to the situation, though she says that the trustees and other interested parties have kept the team’s succession plans confidential out of respect for the Bowlen family. After all, the team is under no obligation to publicly disclose those plans.

Jhabvala notes that Bowlen established a family trust years ago in an effort to eventually transfer ownership of the team to his seven children, each of whom would receive an equal stake in the franchise. Nonetheless, only one of those children would be the sole voice for the team at league meetings and have the title of controlling owner, and the Ellis/Sliva/Kelly trio have full authority to sell the team to an outside party if they deem such a sale to be in the best interest of the team and the Bowlen children. That means that Ellis will have final say on his eventual replacement as top decision-maker.

Jhabvala’s sources indicate that the Pat Bowlen Trust trustees sent Bowlen’s wife, Annabel, and the Bowlen children a list of criteria to help determine who the next controlling owner will be. Those criteria include subjective items like integrity and sound judgment, but they also include requirements like a bachelor’s degree paired with an MBA, J.D., or other advanced business-related degree.

As of now, Jhabvala notes that only two of the seven Bowlen children are currently on track to meet those criteria and, in turn, to become the next controlling owner. One is Brittany Alexandra Bowlen, who is just 28. She worked in the NFL’s junior rotational program in New York, she was an analyst in the Broncos’ business department in 2015, and she completed an internship with the McKinsey & Company consulting firm last year (she expects to accept a full-time position with McKinsey after completing her MBA at Duke University later this year).

The other most likely candidate is Beth Bowlen Wallace, 47, who has a law degree from the University of Denver and who previously worked with the team as a director of special projects for more than three years, the highest position by title held by a Bowlen child.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated multiple times that the Broncos continue to be run effectively and that the team is in compliance with league ownership rules. Despite that, and despite the fact that the Broncos have remained a profitable enterprise, Jhabvala observes that the league will not wait forever for a new owner to be named (though there is no clear timetable in place). League rules do make it easier to keep ownership in the family, so as of now, it seems as though the safe money is on Wallace or Brittany Alexandra Bowlen becoming the team’s next controlling owner (assuming that the criteria set forth by the trustees is sufficient and will be largely satisfied). But it is still a fluid situation that bears watching as the Broncos embark on an offseason that they hope will help put an end to a two-year playoff drought.