PHOENIX – As Bill Bowlen continues his lawsuit against the three trustees in charge of his brother Pat Bowlen’s trust in an Arapahoe County court, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said here Tuesday the league will, and has been, arbitrating the Broncos’ ownership dispute.
“We have started the arbitration process,’’ Goodell said in his press conference that concluded the three-day NFL owners meetings here at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. “Carmen Policy, I’ve selected him to oversee that. We actually have been at it for 30 or 35 days.’’
Policy, 76, is a former 49ers and Browns’ executive, who back in 1994 worked with Pat Bowlen on a committee to negotiate on behalf of the NFL for the Oakland Raiders to play in proposed Hollywood Park in Los Angeles.
Bowlen was the Broncos’ owner from 1984 until Alzheimer’s caused him to place his team in the Pat Bowlen Trust in 2014.
The Broncos’ trustees had requested a stay of Bill Bowlen’s lawsuit until the NFL decided it would arbitrate the ownership segment of Bill Bowlen’s complaint.
Bill Bowlen countered by filing a motion to deny with the statement: "Defendants’ Motion is nothing more than a delay tactic and attempt to interfere with the Court’s ability to decide important issues relating to Defendants’ misconduct.’’
Arapahoe County Judge Charles Pratt agreed with the trustees in a court statement last week that team ownership is a league matter, although he also granted Bill Bowlen’s complaint against the trustees as executors of the Pat Bowlen Trust.
The league is not waiting for that legal battle to play out. The league has granted the trustees’ desire to arbitrate what the trustees are calling the “Wallace/Klemmer ownership dispute.’’ Beth Bowlen Wallace and Amie Klemmer are Pat Bowlen’s oldest children from his first marriage.
The trustees have stated in court documents they believe Bill Bowlen is a surrogate petitioner for Beth Bowlen Wallace, who has publicly declared her desire to become the Broncos’ principal owner. Beth Bowlen Wallace has said her uncle Bill’s lawsuit is not related to her stated wish to take control of the Broncos.
The three trustees – Broncos’ chief executive officer Joe Ellis, general counsel Rich Slivka and attorney Mary Kelly – have delivered strong indications they want another of Pat Bowlen’s daughters, Brittany Bowlen, to one day become the team’s principal owner.