By Jim Saccomano, Denver Broncos Football Club
Pat Bowlen, the only two-decade owner of a major league sports team in Colorado history, is now in his 24th year as the President and CEO of the Denver Broncos.
Whether judged by the measure of wins and championships, attendance, national television exposure, or by his and the Broncos’ reputation locally and throughout the NFL, there are few parallels in the world of professional sports, and none in Colorado pro sports history.
Under Bowlen’s regime, the Broncos arguably have brought more national and international recognition to Colorado than any other local organization or team in state history. Enhancing their contribution are an NFL-record seven international American Bowl appearances (including London, Berlin, Barcelona, Mexico City, Sydney, and twice in Tokyo).
During Bowlen’s tenure as owner, the Denver Broncos: • Won back-to-back World Championships in 1997 and 1998. • Garnered five AFC Championships (1986, 1987, 1989, 1997 and 1998). • Have had the best home record in pro football. • Became the second team in modern NFL history to go undefeated during regular-season play at home for three consecutive seasons (1996-1998). • Performed the astonishing feat of going an entire calendar year (12/15/97-12/13/98) without a defeat, logging a then league-record 18 consecutive wins. • Have had 13 playoff appearances and just two losing seasons.
The team has enjoyed tremendous off-the-field success as well. In Bowlen’s 23 years of ownership, the Broncos have played 25 postseason games, all of which have been sold out. The Broncos have extended their string of home sellouts to 37 consecutive years, longest in the AFC and second only to Washington in the NFC.
In addition to his role with the Broncos, Bowlen is a key figure in securing the league’s labor and TV contracts. He is currently Chair of the prestigious NFL Broadcasting Committee and is a member of both the NFL Compensation Committee and NFL Finance Committee. He also serves on the NFL Diversity Committee and the NFL Ventures Committee.
As present Chair of the NFL Broadcasting Committee, Bowlen was responsible for the negotiations on the NFL’s $18 billion TV contract, the most lucrative single-sport contract in history with greater financial value than the TV contracts of all other sports leagues combined. His reputation with the heads of America’s TV networks is well documented. The Broncos are a fixture on national TV and have more TV viewers annually than the other teams in the state combined. In 2006, the Broncos played in the first-ever regular season televised game on the NFL Network, and the team was selected for a league-record six prime-time TV games. Bowlen also is Chairman of Broncos Charities and, in that capacity, has made donations of more than $25 million to Denver area philanthropic causes, with particular support given to long-term programs in the core areas of youth, health and hunger relief/homelessness.
There are few parallels in the world of professional sports, and none in Colorado pro sports history.