Pat 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.

AFC Notes: Bowlen, Shazier, Titans

The family of late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen will receive Bowlen’s Gold Jacket and Hall of Fame ring, as Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. Bowlen was elected to the Hall of Fame in February but passed away in June, making him the first HOFer to die between his election and his induction. Typically, the HOF doesn’t present the jacket and the ring to those enshrined posthumously because it doesn’t want the family to fight over the artifacts or sell them, but the production of the artifacts had already begun before Bowlen passed.

The family will display the items in the front lobby of the Broncos’ UCHealth Center headquarters so that they can be enjoyed by fans.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • David Furones of the South Florida Sun Sentinel explores the relationship between Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier and his high school teammate, trainer, and close friend, Jerome Howard. Howard has been with Shazier throughout his recovery and has assisted him in his efforts to get back to the playing field. The piece is well-worth a read, especially for Steelers fans, as it also details the remarkable progress that Shazier has made. A return to football is still a long way off, but he has already overcome tremendous odds just to be walking again, let alone exercising the way he is.
  • We heard in May that Colts WR Deon Cain was expected to be a full participant in training camp, but Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk says that Cain’s status is still unclear. However, she does hear that Cain should be ready to go at least by the regular season opener, which could a huge boon to Indianapolis’ aerial attack. Cain, a 2018 sixth-rounder, generated a lot of hype before tearing his ACL last August and is highly-regarded by the coaching staff. He is currently the fourth WR on the depth chart.
  • Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com believes linebacker Kamalei Correa will make the Titans‘ roster and will have an impact in 2019, but he is on the bubble and will need to fight for a spot on the club. In the same piece, Wyatt says that he does not expect Tennessee to bring back safety Johnathan Cyprien, although the team said after releasing Cyprien in March that it would like to re-sign him at a cheaper rate.
  • Bills RB Christian Wade was assigned to Buffalo’s roster as part of the league’s international pathway program, which means he is eligible to be the 11th man on the club’s practice squad. But as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes, Wade believes he can crack the 53-man roster. That will be a tall order given that veterans LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, and T.J. Yeldon, along with third-round rookie Devin Singletary, are ahead of him on the depth chart. But McCoy and Gore will be free agents after the season, and Yeldon could be a cap casualty by that time, so if Wade impresses, he could be a roster candidate in 2020.

Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen Dead At 75

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has died at the age of 75. He is survived by his wife, Annabel, and his seven children, Amie, Beth, Patrick, Johnny, Brittany, Annabel and Christianna.

We are saddened to inform everyone that our beloved husband and father, Pat Bowlen, passed on to the next chapter of his life late Thursday night peacefully at home surrounded by family,” the family wrote in a statement. “His soul will live on through the Broncos, the city of Denver and all of our fans. Our family wishes to express its sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support we have received in recent years. Heaven got a little bit more orange and blue tonight.

Pat Bowlen had a competitive spirit with a great sense of humor. As fun-loving as he was, he always wanted us to understand the big picture. We will forever remember his kindness and humility.

“More important than being an incredible owner, Pat Bowlen was an incredible human being.”

Over the course of 35 years as the Broncos’ owner, Bowlen’s franchise enjoyed 21 winning seasons, seven Super Bowl appearances, and three titles. Bowlen, who was elected to the Hall of Fame this year, leaves behind a legacy as one of the league’s most influential owners of all time.

Towards the end of his life, Bowlen’s battle with Alzheimer’s forced him to step away from his daily duties running the team. Now, the battle to choose a successor is expected to heat up, with Brittany Bowlen believed to be the favorite of the Pat Bowlen Trust.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: CBA, Cowboys, Coates, Dez Bryant, Broncos Ownership

Many current and former players, as well as some team owners, have spoken out about the NFL’s Marijuana policy and called it archaic. After years of players facing lengthy suspension for using the substance, it appears change could finally be on the way. The league hopes to get rid of the ban on players smoking Marijuana, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, but there is a catch.

Florio reports that the league doesn’t just want to change the policy on their own, but they instead want to “dangle” potential changes in the next collective bargaining agreement to secure “a concession from the union in exchange for softening a policy that badly needs to be softened.” The next CBA negotiations are expected to be highly contentious, and there have been rumors another lockout could be on the way, so it’s not surprising the league wants every bit of leverage they can get.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • We heard earlier today that the Cowboys were working out receiver Sammie Coates, but don’t expect Dallas to sign him. The team isn’t going to sign the former Steeler and Brown, and were just “taking a look” at the wideout, according to Clarence Hill Jr. of the Forth-Worth Star Telegram (Twitter link). Coates was once a pretty productive and highly thought of receiver for Pittsburgh, but has had trouble staying in the league the past couple of seasons. Still only 25, the Auburn product will likely resurface somewhere soon.
  • Dez Bryant suffered a devastating Achilles injury just after finally signing with the Saints, but the 30-year-old plans to keep playing. “I have to. I got business and I got ball. I can’t end like this”, Bryant told a Dallas radio station, per Jon Machota of Dallas News (Twitter link). Bryant might not be ready for the start of the 2019 season, but should be able to find a home on a one-year prove it deal.
  • We’ve heard a lot about the Broncos’ ownership situation over the last few months, and now finally owner Pat Bowlen’s wife Annabel is speaking out. Annabel filed a motion and joined the ongoing legal saga, and filed her motion in support of the trust her husband set up to run the team, according to Kevin Vaughan of Denver 9 News. Pat’s brother Bill is currently suing, trying to get the trust dissolved and to seize control of the team.
  • The Giants worked out defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng, a source told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Boateng is a Canadian who has played very well in the CFL the past couple of years. This time of year it’s common to see CFL players get workouts for consideration for next season, as they aren’t eligible to be signed until after the season is over. Boateng has gotten workouts with the Chargers and Jets recently, so NFL scouts clearly see some potential there.

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.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Elway, Titans, Bryant, Holland

John Elway could be a potential candidate to buy the Broncos should the Bowlen family decide to sell the team, speculates Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. There’s been some drama recently within the Bowlen family about who should take over the team. Owner Pat Bowlen removed himself from the team several years ago as his health worsened. The team was placed into a trust, and Bowlen’s children have been doing battle in the media for a while now as several angle to be put in charge. Broncos CEO Joe Ellis recently said Pat’s daughter Beth wasn’t “qualified” for the position, a claim she responded to forcefully.

Kiszla points out that Elway’s contract as head of football operations runs until 2021. He thinks that if everything goes smoothly until then, Brittany Bowlen could step in then and run the team. But if things go south, the family could force a sale of the team, in which case Kiszla thinks Elway might try and put together the funding to buy the team himself.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Broncos rookie undrafted pass-rusher Jeff Holland not only has a good chance at making the team, but at becoming the “next solid undrafted pass rusher”, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post. O’Halloran thinks Holland “made an impression” this offseason and notes that Shane Ray’s injury will improve Holland’s chances of making the team.
  • Don’t expect the Titans to make a run at Dez Bryant writes Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. Wyatt notes that the previous veteran receiver signings the Titans have made haven’t worked out and that the team “wants to see the team’s current players develop.”
  • In case you missed it, Patriots tight end Dwayne Allen could be cut by the team in a cost-saving move.

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.