Bill Bowlen

Broncos Ownership Lawsuit Dismissed

Bill Bowlen‘s lawsuit attempting to remove Broncos CEO Joe Ellis and his fellow trustees from the Pat Bowlen trust has been dismissed in its entirety, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). This resolution paves the way for Pat Bowlen’s ownership succession plans to go into effect.

As those who have been following this situation know by now, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, who passed away in June, ceded control of the club to three trustees during his battle with Alzheimer’s, and the trustees were vested with the power to transfer the team to one of Pat Bowlen’s seven children — when the time is right, and assuming at least one child satisfies his requirements for ownership — or to sell the team if the trustees believe doing so is in the club’s best interest.

For some time now, it has appeared that 29-year-old Brittany Bowlen is the favorite to ultimately take the reins. But not long after her status as the frontrunner became clear, Beth Bowlen Wallace went public with her desire to own the Broncos, though Ellis said the trust believed Bowlen Wallace was not qualified for ownership.

Bill Bowlen, Pat Bowlen’s brother, then filed his suit to remove the trustees, and as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, the Broncos believe that Bill Bowlen was acting on behalf of Bowlen Wallace and another sister, Amie Klemmer.

Florio, in confirming Schefter’s report, also says the battle is not quite over. After Bill Bowlen filed the suit, the Broncos initiated an arbitration proceeding under the theory that the matter falls within the NFL’s purview. Bill Bowlen had resisted arbitration since filing suit, but now it is his last hope.

The Broncos, though, believe that they will prevail in arbitration, and Florio says they’re probably right. So for right now, it seems as if Brittany Bowlen will, sooner or later, become the team’s controlling owner.

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

John Elway Not Eyeing Broncos Ownership

Pat Bowlen‘s death will bring the situation regarding his successor to the forefront. But the player most associated with the franchise since Bowlen bought the team in 1984 does not have interest in becoming its owner.

John Elway has been in place as the Broncos’ top front office executive since 2011. While rumors have persisted about Elway one day buying the team or organizing a group to do so and becoming the franchise’s controlling owner, the Broncos’ current GM attempted to shut that talk down.

No,’’ Elway said, laughing, via 9News’ Mike Klis when asked about one of these scenarios coming to fruition. “No. 1, I don’t have the money. I wish I did. I wish that wasn’t an issue.”

Elway is one of the NFL’s highest-paid GMs and has other income avenues in Denver. Forbes, however, valued the Broncos at $2.7 billion. The Broncos gave Elway a five-year contract two summers ago, and he plans to continue serving in the same capacity.

It’s a different galaxy,” Elway said on the difference between front office money and ownership capital. “I’m happy with where I am. I’m proud to work for the organization and the opportunity they provide and so we’ll continue to work our tail off.”

The current battle between Beth Bowlen Wallace and the Broncos’ trustees, who have been running the team since Pat Bowlen’s Alzheimer’s struggle required him to step away, featured the latter party regarding the late owner’s daughter as unqualified at this time to serve as the franchise’s controlling owner. That fight continues, with former 49ers executive Carmen Policy serving as the NFL arbiter.

Pat Bowlen’s brother, Bill, has also filed suit to remove Broncos CEO Joe Ellis and two other trustees from the Bowlen Trust. The trustees believe Bill Bowlen is suing on Bowlen Wallace’s behalf, Klis writes. But Brittany Bowlen, 29, has been viewed as the favorite to one day take the reins. Brittany Bowlen is expected to take a business-side job with the Broncos this year.

Latest On Broncos Ownership Situation

The drama surrounding ownership of the Broncos continues to escalate. Last month we broke down the latest in the situation, and it’s taken several new turns since then. Owner Pat Bowlen has been unable to manage the team for a while now as he suffers from Alzheimer’s, and last month his brother Bill Bowlen filed a lawsuit against the trust that controls the team, seeking to have the trust dissolved. Now the trust, which has placed CEO Joe Ellis in charge for the past few years, is responding by filing a motion asking that the case be moved to an arbitration process to be ruled on by the NFL, according to Troy Renck of TheDenverChannel.com.

There’s been a battle brewing within the Bowlen family for a while now, but it had been playing out mostly behind the scenes until recently, when it spilled out into the press. A few months back one of Pat’s daughters, Beth Bowlen Wallace, went public with her desire to eventually take control of the team. The trust, which was set up to eventually decide who would take over the team as Pat’s health declined, pushed back on Wallace’s statements, and has said they don’t believe she is ready to run the team. Another one of Pat’s daughters, the 28-year-old Brittany Bowlen, has also confirmed she wants to own the Broncos and she is reportedly the preferred candidate of team and league executives.

The trust, and Ellis, have been accused of dragging their feet intentionally in order to keep themselves in power, a claim they’ve strongly denied. The lawsuit alleges just that, and Bill also claims that his brother was incapacitated at the time the trust was created in 2009 and that it should be deemed invalid.

The trust’s motion includes an affidavit from one of Pat Bowlen’s lawyers at the time, Richard Robinson, who writes that Pat “understood his affairs including Broncos’ succession plan” in 2009, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Klis writes that Robinson will be the “star” witness in the case, because the “crux of Bill Bowlen’s lawsuit is [Pat] was incapacitated in 2006.”

Renck writes that Bill’s legal team now has 21 days to respond to the motion to move this to NFL arbitration, so we should have more updates soon. Bill will almost certainly oppose the move, as the league office is unlikely to be sympathetic to his arguments in arbitration. Bill and Beth Bowlen Wallace have the same attorneys, and are working together to gain control of the team. It’s a very complex and tangled situation, and it’s anyone’s guess what will end up happening with the team. Ellis has been in control since July of 2014, and there’s no end in sight to the saga.

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.