Pat Bowlen, Gil Brandt take big step toward Hall of Fame as they're named contributor finalists

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/den" data-ylk="slk:Broncos">Broncos</a> owner Pat Bowlen, shown in 2011, was named a contributor finalist by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (AP)
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, shown in 2011, was named a contributor finalist by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (AP)

Somewhat strangely, voters have decided that more team owners need to be in the Hall of Fame.

In 2016, former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo was named a contributor finalist and voted in. In 2017, the honor went to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. And now Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is a step away from getting voted into the Class of 2019.

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Bowlen and Gil Brandt, the longtime Cowboys executive, were named contributor finalists on Thursday, the Hall of Fame announced. While it’s not a sure thing that Bowlen and/or Brandt will get in, five of the first six contributor finalists were voted in since the Hall of Fame changed its bylaws in 2014 to allow contributors to automatically be included among the finalists for election. 

The Broncos have pushed hard for Pat Bowlen

Broncos fans, the team and Denver media have argued night and day for Bowlen to get in the Hall of Fame since the team announced its longtime owner was battling Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.

The argument for Bowlen, they say, is the Broncos’ long track record of success since Bowlen took over the team in 1984. That includes three Super Bowl titles. Bowlen was also a big part of some NFL committees, including a big role in negotiating the league’s television deals.

“This is an exciting day for our family and the Broncos fans who have been so supportive of Pat Bowlen for the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” the Bowlen family said in a statement through the team. “Pat would be the first to say it’s not just about him but a credit to the many players, coaches and executives he worked with over the years. We’re thankful to the Contributor Committee for recognizing the incredible impact Pat’s had on the NFL. As we look forward to the final vote, our family also congratulates Gil Brandt on his well-deserved nomination.”

Gil Brandt helped build the Cowboys

To many younger fans, Brandt is the one with the entertaining and informative Twitter feed that talks about all aspects of football. Before that, he was a legend in the Cowboys organization.

His legacy in football stretches back decades. From 1960-89, Brandt helped build the Cowboys franchise. He was the team’s vice president of player personnel, helping bring in Hall of Fame players and building some championship teams for what would become arguably the most recognizable franchise in the NFL.

Being so visible with as an analyst certainly didn’t hurt keeping his name on the forefront of the voters’ minds.

“This is, without question, one of the greatest things that have happened in my life,” Brandt said, according to the Hall of Fame.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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