Joe Ellis

Mike Shanahan Not Option For Broncos HC?

The NFL news cycle had not seen Mike Shanahan-Broncos overlap in many years, but Monday brought that, with a report indicating the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach was a consideration for the Broncos late last year.

With the Broncos likely set to have a coaching vacancy soon, Shanahan would conceivably be in play for a Broncos reunion this time around. But that does not appear to be the case. The 66-year-old coach will not be among the candidates considered if/when the Broncos fire Vance Joseph, Mike Klis of 9News reports.

John Elway‘s hesitance in giving Joseph his second season was partially Shanahan-related, but Broncos president Joe Ellis was less on-board than the GM, ultimately nixing the idea. However, the talks for Shanahan to reclaim his post as Broncos HC did not go too far, with The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala reporting (subscription required) Ellis did not directly refute the idea of Shanahan 2.0. The Elway-Ellis talks regarding Shanahan were not especially formal, Jhabvala notes, adding no offer or deal framework was discussed.

This news called into question who was making the final football decisions in Denver, but Jhabvala notes the GM, and not Ellis, is still the point man on football operations. Ellis did give Elway the go-ahead to fire Joseph after last season if he so chose, but that a thorough coaching search be conducted rather than rehiring Shanahan. That said, Ellis did not want Shanahan to be part of the search. And it appears that stance remains.

The Broncos fired Shanahan after 14 seasons in 2008. He has not coached since his Redskins tenure ended after the 2013 campaign. Part of this Shanahan-return talk involved Kirk Cousins, with Woody Paige of the Colorado Springs Gazette reporting Shanahan and his former pupil met during the offseason, Cousins indicating he would follow Shanahan to Denver at a reduced rate. However, Jhabvala refutes this, writing Cousins did not meet with Shanahan nor discuss a discount Broncos setup.

Denver then went with Case Keenum for Joseph’s second year, and while the results have been better than they were in 2017, injuries and some maligned in-game coaching decisions have weakened this year’s team. Joseph, who met with Elway on Monday about the Shanahan reports, is 11-19 in two years. Joseph will not be fired before the season ends, Klis adds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

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.

Owner Pat Bowlen Resigns Control Of Broncos

Longtime Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is giving up control over the franchise due to his ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. The 70-year-old is placing ownership in the Pat Bowlen Trust that is controlled by non-family members, with team president Joe Ellis assuming control of the club.

It’s a really, really sad day,” Ellis said. “It’s sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It’s sad for everyone in the organization. And it’s sad for all the Bronco fans who know what Pat Bowlen meant to them as an owner. It’s a day nobody wanted to see happen.”

As the Broncos explain in a statement of their own, Bowlen’s hope is to eventually transfer control of the franchise to one of his seven children. For now, Ellis will have the final say on decisions related to the franchise, having been named the team’s CEO in addition to its president. The veteran executive will represent the Broncos for all league matters.

Bowlen purchased the Broncos franchise in 1984, and has overseen the team’s two Super Bowl wins since then, as well as its other four appearances in the championship game. During Bowlen’s tenure, the club has endured just five losing seasons, and has racked up 16 postseason appearances.