Today’s minor transactions:
- Activated off reserve/COVID-19 list: C Alex Mack
Today’s minor transactions:
Although it has been clear for some time that Brittany Bowlen would likely be the only one of Pat Bowlen‘s seven children to take over ownership of the franchise, Broncos CEO Joe Ellis — one of the trustees of the Pat Bowlen Trust — had previously stated that there is no “depth chart” as to which child would replace Pat as principal owner.
But much has changed over the past couple of months. In late November, we learned that Brittany would begin working with the team as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, which was the first time the team had acknowledged that she was definitively a part of the succession plan. More recently, Ellis announced that Brittany had distinguished herself as the “only successor” (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com).
However, Ellis also made it clear that the rest of the Bowlen family would need to rally around Brittany and support her, and if that does not happen, the trustees may be forced to sell the team to an outside party. And given that two of Pat’s older daughters from an earlier marriage, Amie Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace, have filed a lawsuit challenging their father’s mental capacity to approve the Trust, it’s difficult to imagine Brittany will be getting full support from her family.
Ellis did concede that full family support is not a requirement, and a Trust source tells Mike Klis of 9News.com that Brittany would not need unanimous approval from the other six Bowlen children. While such approval would be ideal, given that all seven children would continue to have an equal financial share in the team, Klis said Pat did not want the club to be sold outside the family.
So even though Brittany still looks like the safe bet, she will need to step up to bring the family together, which will not be an easy task. And in any event, nothing can happen during the pending lawsuit, the next court date for which is in the spring.
Brittany Bowlen, 29, has long been considered the favorite to succeed her father, the late Pat Bowlen, as the Broncos’ principal owner, and it seems she is well on her way towards that position. As Mike Klis of 9News.com reports, Brittany Bowlen will begin working with the team next Monday as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.
The team did not send out a press release, but it did send an emailed response to several members of the media who had requested an update on the Broncos’ ownership situation. Brittany Bowlen’s role will including the following responsibilities:
Of course, the Broncos have been run by a trust created by Pat Bowlen in 2009, and one of the trustees, team CEO Joe Ellis, has been a de facto spokesman for the club. Ellis has repeatedly said that there is no “depth chart” as to which of Pat Bowlen’s seven children would replace him as principal owner, so this move is the first time the team has publicly acknowledged that the succession plan definitely includes Brittany Bowlen.
“Brittany is working toward earning the right to succeed her father, and this is the next step in that process,” Ellis said. “Given her work experience and depth of knowledge, we’re looking forward to Brittany returning to work for the Broncos and adding value across our organization.”
Brittany Bowlen has been working at global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for the past 14 months, and she will initially focus on the business side of team operations, but her role is expected to eventually expand to include football operations.
Two of Pat Bowlen’s older daughters from an earlier marriage, Amie Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace, have filed a petition challenging their father’s mental capacity to approve the trust, and a hearing on that matter will be heard in the spring.
Yesterday, 28-year-old Brittany Bowlen publicly confirmed her interest in one day becoming the Broncos‘ controlling owner. As Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets, however, Bowlen’s interest had been known for some time, yesterday just marked the first time she went public with her feelings. Jhabvala also confirms that, if Bowlen does not become the controlling owner, the Pat Bowlen Trust will likely sell the club to an outside buyer.
Now let’s take a look at some more news and notes from the league’s west divisions:
Ben Levine contributed to this post.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.