Brittany 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.

Extra Points: McDowell, Broncos, Browns

Malik McDowell is still looking to play football again. The talented defensive lineman was taken by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2017 draft, but has never played a down in the NFL. An ATV accident before his rookie year resulted in serious injuries that up until this point have prevented him from playing. The Seahawks finally decided to move on and waived him earlier this month after he couldn’t gain clearance. He still wants to play however, and recently met with the Cowboys.

McDowell’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, revealed today that McDowell had been cleared to play again by independent doctors (Twitter link via Calvin Watkins of The Athletic). However, the Cowboys’ team doctors have been unable to clear him yet. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram tweeted that Rosenhaus also said the Cowboys remain interested his client, but it sounds like there’s still a big medical hurdle to clear. It seems Dallas’ interest is legitimate, and if their doctors are able to clear him there’s a very good chance he’d sign. He was the 35th overall pick out of Michigan State for a reason, so if he’s ever able to get back on the field it could prove to be a great pickup.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Center Matt Paradis left the Broncos this offseason, and signed a big deal with the Panthers. We heard shortly before he signed with Carolina that Denver was working to re-sign him, but that apparently wasn’t a realistic effort. The Broncos essentially lowballed Paradis, offering him a one-year “look-see” deal that they knew he wouldn’t accept, according to Mike Klis of Denver 9News. Despite the reported effort, it sounds like the Broncos never truly intended to retain Paradis, who got three years and $27MM from the Panthers.
  • Speaking of the Broncos, their ownership dispute could be inching toward a resolution. Brittany Bowlen, one of the daughters of owner Pat Bowlen vying to take over the team, will soon start a job in Denver’s front office, Broncos CEO Joe Ellis told Klis (Twitter link). There’s been a drawn out dramatic dispute playing out between members of the Bowlen family for a while now, and Brittany is believed to be the favorite of Broncos and league brass. Klis calls it a “potential huge step” toward her one day taking over the team.
  • We heard a couple of weeks ago that the Browns were shopping Emmanuel Ogbah, and that’s apparently still the case. Ogbah is still being shopped, a source told Tony Grossi of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Additionally, Grossi reports that “there’s a lot of interest” in the defensive end. Ogbah is still only 25 and on his rookie deal, so it makes sense that there’s legit interest. With Olivier Vernon now in the fold opposite Myles Garrett, the Browns don’t have much of a need for Ogbah.

West Rumors: Raiders, Chargers, Broncos

The 49ers aren’t the only club with interest in former Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, as the Raiders also want to speak to the ex-Indy exec about a front office role, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Oakland is rebuilding its front office after firing general manager Reggie McKenzie and top lieutenant Joey Clinkscales. Grigson would join a front office that now includes first-time GM — and former NFL Network analyst — Mike Mayock, who was hired earlier this week. The 46-year-old Grigson was fired by the Colts in 2016 after a tumultuous five-year term as GM, and has since worked with the Browns and Seahawks’ front offices.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Two of Sean McVay‘s top assistants will take their interviews with the Bengals on Friday. Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor and pass game coordinator/tight ends coach Shane Waldron will meet with Cincinnati ownership tomorrow, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Nearly every candidate in which the Bengals have expressed interest thus far have come from the offensive side of the ball, with the only exception being former Broncos head coach (and ex-Cincy defensive backs coach) Vance Joseph. The Bengals were turned down by Josh McDaniels, but they’ve also asked to meet with Bucs OC Todd Monken and Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, among others. Bieniemy’s interview with the Bengals — originally scheduled for Friday — will now take place on Saturday, tweets Pelissero.
  • After being designated for return from injured reserve and participating in seven-on-seven drills at the end of December, Chargers tight end Hunter Henry took first-team snaps in practice this week, Los Angeles announced. However, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn still declined to commit to Henry playing against the Ravens in the first round of the NFL postseason, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com tweets. If Henry does play, he’ll be on a “pitch count,” meaning fellow tight ends Antonio Gates and Virgil Green will still see time. Henry tore his ACL in May, but Los Angeles held out hope he’d be available if the club made it to the playoffs.
  • Rams center John Sullivan collected a $1MM bonus by being active for at least 15 games and Los Angeles ranking as a top-five scoring offense and making the playoffs, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Sullivan, 33, actually started all 16 games for the Rams in 2018, and has started 31 contests since joining the club last offseason. LA’s line was elite in 2018, finishing No. 1 in adjusted line yards and No. 6 in adjusted sack rate, but Sullivan graded as just the NFL’s No. 32 center, per Pro Football Focus. The Rams hold a 2019 option on Sullivan which would pay him $1.75MM in base salary in addition to a $2.5MM roster bonus.
  • Currently being run by a trust headed by team president Joe Ellis, the Broncos are in need of a permanent owner. That’s likely to eventually be Pat Bowlen‘s youngest daughter, Brittany Bowlen, tweets James Palmer of ESPN.com, who notes Brittany will join the organization “at some point.” Bowlen, 28, could potentially take over in 2021 after a new collective bargaining agreement is put into place, speculates Mike Klis of 9News.
  • 49ers left guard Laken Tomlinson suffered a torn MCL on Sunday, according to a team announcement. That’s relatively good news since the longtime starter was carted off of the field, leading to fears that he had suffered a torn ACL. Tomlinson will not need surgery, so he should be good to go for offseason activities. Tomlinson is under contract with San Francisco through 2021 thanks to the three-year, $18MM extension he signed last summer.

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.

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.