Many in the NFL community woke up to the news that longtime Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen died late Thursday night, so Friday morning has been filled with tributes and remembrances of Bowlen.
Bowlen bought the Broncos in 1984 but was forced to cede day-to-day control of the club five years ago due to Alzheimer’s. He was 75.
Here is a sampling of the statements that have been shared about Bowlen:
Former Broncos RB Terrell Davis
“I just woke up to the very sad news of my friend & confidant Mr. B passing away. The world has lost a great man/legend. My heart & prayers to the Bowlen family.
“Mr. B, I’ll never forget the impact you had on my life. I can’t thank you enough. Rest In Peace, TD.”
Broncos GM and legend John Elway
“Pat gave me so much and he was someone that I always looked up to. He gave this team everything we needed to be the best and compete for championships, and the focus was always on football.
“That’s all you can ask for in an owner - yet he did more. He was a tremendous mentor to me and a tremendous friend. Pat was a great listener, always asking what was going on, and I learned so much from watching him. He was a terrific leader.
“Whether things were going right or things weren’t going right, he would always let you know what we needed to get better. He did a great job of applying pressure at the right times but always trusted his football people to make the right decisions.
“Other than his family, nothing meant more to Pat than making sure the Denver Broncos were successful. What he did for this team, this city and the entire NFL will never be matched. His shoes will never be filled. I will miss Pat greatly and always treasure the times we had together. We’ll continue to take care of the team as if he were here today. My deepest sympathies are with Annabel and the entire Bowlen family.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
“Pat was driven by the will to succeed and his competitive spirit made him a great leader. We all will greatly miss him and his kindness, passion and wisdom.
“Pat had a deep love for the game of football, the Broncos and the city of Denver. In the 35 years he owned the Broncos, he helped deliver a remarkable 21 winning seasons and seven Super Bowl appearances, including three titles.
“Our league is also better because of Pat's extraordinary contributions. As co-chair of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee and the chair of the NFL Broadcasting Committee, Pat played an instrumental role in many facets of our League that benefited fans, players and clubs.
“Pat personified all that's right about the NFL and is extremely deserving of this summer's recognition as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“We send our deepest condolences to Annabel, the Bowlen family and Broncos' fans in Denver and around the world.”
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft
“There was no owner or person like Pat Bowlen. I loved him. Today is a very sad day for all who knew him.
“When I came into the league in 1994, I worked closely with Pat on the NFL’s broadcasting committee and he offered advice and guidance to help me in every way. It was an example of the kind of man he was. He was relentless in his competitive desire to win, but he was always a gentleman, a professional and a trusted partner.
“Pat’s pursuit of excellence, both on the field and in the community, made the league better. He was a leader both in his success and in his kindness and humility. I will forever be grateful for his friendship and support over the years. My heartfelt condolences go out to his beloved wife Annabel, his children, the Denver Broncos and their fans. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy will endure through the team he built, the community he loved and his well-deserved recognition as a Pro Football Hall of Famer.”
Former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask
“An opponent on game day - a supportive colleague in business - thank you Pat for encouraging me to succeed - my thoughts are with the Bowlen family and the Broncos organization.”
Detroit Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford
“Pat Bowlen’s contributions to our great game will forever be cherished in the history of the National Football League. His leadership over the years, including serving as chairman of both the NFL Broadcasting and NFL Management Council Executive Committees, in addition to an unwavering commitment to his community, are testaments to his high character.
“The NFL world will celebrate his life when he is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer. On behalf of my family and the Detroit Lions, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to his wife, Annabel, the Bowlen family and the entire Broncos organization.”
San Francisco 49ers GM and former Broncos safety John Lynch
“On top of all of [his] Hall of Fame worthy accolades, Mr. B was a good man. He made it so fun to play for the Broncos because he cared so much and allowed you a chance every year to compete for the whole thing. RIP Pat Bowlen and God’s Blessings to the Bowlen Family.”
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue
“Pat Bowlen and I spent a great deal of time together during my 17 years as Commissioner. He volunteered on more than a dozen League Committees so we often had meetings in our New York office during the day and then enjoyed dinner conversation at night revolving around our families and his love for the Broncos, their fans and their players.
“Pat was an extraordinary leader and open-minded consensus builder. I have long considered Pat one of the top five NFL owners in league history.”
Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos
“Pat Bowlen was class personified. Always putting others before himself, his leadership not only helped guide the Denver Broncos to great success on the field, it helped drive initiatives at the league level and grow the game.
“His contributions are appropriately being recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August, and his dedication to family and philanthropy merits similar recognition. Our hearts and thoughts are with Pat’s wife, Annabel, his children and the entire Broncos organization.”
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