Bowlen, 71, has been battling Alzheimer’s disease for several years and is now in the later stages of that condition. According to the Post, Bowlen suffered the blood clot prior to the start of the Broncos playoff run.
He has owned the Broncos since 1984. During his tenure as owner, the Broncos have made the playoffs 18 times and had seven Super Bowl appearances, tied with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft as the most in NFL history.
However, Bowlen has not had an active role in everyday organizational decisions since approximately 2009, when it was first reported that he was suffering from memory loss. Bowlen officially gave up full control of the Broncos prior to the 2014 season.
Since then, Joe Ellis, a long-time Bowlen aide, has filled in for the ailing owner in ownership duties. However, Bowlen is still considered the owner of the Denver Broncos. That may not be technically accurate.
The Broncos are in fact owned by the Pat Bowlen Trust, which is run by three trustees, including Ellis. The trust’s goal is to eventually select one of Bowlen’s seven children to take over as owner.
There are serious questions about how long the NFL will allow the Broncos to be without an active owner. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about the league’s ownership policy during his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference on Friday.
“We have ownership policies, the ownership policies are lengthy, but essentially they require a single owner to represent the club locally, but also at the league level” Goodell said. “They want to know who their partner is, they want to know who’s responsible for how the team is operated locally and they want to know that their partner is sitting at the table when they are making difficult decisions.”
The news of Bowlen’s declining health could spur action on the NFL’s part. However, for now, Broncos fans are hoping it will spur his team into action on Super Bowl Sunday.
Bowlen, who did not travel with the Broncos to San Francisco, will be watching his franchise’s eighth Super Bowl appearance from his bedroom at a Denver area Alzheimer’s care facility.
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