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Brittany Bowlen one step closer to replacing her father as Broncos owner

The 29-year-old daughter will be brought back to the Broncos later this year to work on strategic development initiatives.

PHOENIX, Arizona — She is 29 and on her way to the top.

The Broncos are in the process of bringing Brittany Bowlen to their front office, most likely within the 2019 calendar year. It’s another indication Brittany Bowlen is the chosen one among Pat Bowlen’s seven children to one day take charge of the Broncos.

“I wouldn’t characterize her as having the lead,’’ Joe Ellis, one of three trustees running the Pat Bowlen Trust and the Broncos’ chief executive officer and president, said in a sit-down interview Monday with 9News. “On the other hand, I will say there are some strategic initiatives we have with the Broncos where her skill-set and everything she learned while working with McKenzie, and the NFL, and the business world that we can utilize her skill set.

“She can be helpful to us. After talking to her I anticipate her being back in the building within the year. She understands what her role would be. It’s not an anointment in any way, shape, or form that she would become the owner. She has to come in and earn it and prove her ware and gain respect and trust from everybody within the organization.

“She’s going to start with a job where she’s going to add some value to this organization. I don’t have specifics on it yet, but I’ve talked to her about it and I look forward to getting her in there. She can definitely help the Broncos.”

Ellis, who is here at the NFL’s annual owners meetings, later reiterated Brittany Bowlen would work in strategic development initiatives, which would be a similar path to what the San Francisco 49ers with their heir to the throne, Jed York. The nephew of former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. York began working with the 49ers as director of strategic planning. He then became Vice President of strategic planning before he was promoted to  team’s president at age 29, and chief executive officer at 30.

His mother, Denise DeBartolo York, remains the team's controlling owner.

So if Brittany Bowlen does one day take charge of the Broncos, she would not become the youngest to do so. But she would be young.

Ellis says Brittany Bowlen possesses characteristics that make her advanced beyond her years.

“A lot of intelligence, emotional intelligence,’’ Ellis said. “In her personal relationships she’s very good at understanding people. A lot of the same instincts I would say that her father had, she’s going to have someday.

“She’s got a lot of good qualities about her. She doesn’t have as much experience yet as perhaps she would like. That comes with the job. And it’s going to come fast because we’re going to throw a lot at her.’’

Upon graduating from Notre Dame with a finance degree in 2013, Brittany Bowlen worked two years in the NFL office in New York as part of its rotational program – six months in four different departments.

She worked one year – the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 season of 2015 – with her father’s team as a business analyst, then went to Duke to work on getting her Master of Business Administration.

After completing her MBA at Duke, Brittany Bowlen spent the past year working in downtown Denver at McKinsey & Co., a worldwide management consulting firm.

Brittany is set to get married in the fall and soon thereafter will begin working again for the Broncos. Her father bought the franchise in 1984 and ran the team until he stepped away from his day-to-day responsibility in 2011. Bowlen officially announced he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July 2014.

His brother, Bill Bowlen, has filed a lawsuit against  trustees Ellis, Broncos general counsel Rich Slivka and attorney Mary Kelly. Bill Bowlen is asking an Arapahoe County court to remove the trustees from running his brother’s trust. Judge Charles Pratt ruled last week the case would go forward in court, while also essentially deciding Broncos’ ownership is a matter for NFL arbitration.

“I trust the process and Judge Pratt,’’ Ellis said. “We’ll see where it goes. We still believe this is an ownership dispute and the league has arbitration rules and constitution bylaws. They’ll speak to how that’s progressing.’’

Bill Bowlen has supported Beth Bowlen Wallace – one of Pat Bowlen’s older daughters from his first marriage – to take charge of the team.

How does the rest of the Bowlen family feel about Brittany – the fifth youngest of Pat’s seven children – moving to the team’s headquarters by year’s end?

“I think they can speak for themselves on that,’’ Ellis said. “I think she’s getting an opportunity she deserves. We’re not creating one because there’s a need there for someone to help us on strategic development initiatives. I don’t want to speak for how the others would react other than to say I think it’s good news that a family member’s in there and has a chance to succeed.’’

Although Ellis has been here on the same Arizona Biltmore Hotel grounds as Roger Goodell, he has not addressed the pending lawsuit, or whether the league will arbitrate the ownership issue, with the commissioner.

“I have not spoken to him,’’ Ellis said. “There’s no need to at this point.’’

The pending lawsuit is not stopping the trustees from moving Brittany Bowlen towards her father’s big chair.

Ellis is the owner delegee who has the big office now. Brittany will not start out working as his right-hand man.

“That’s not the intention,’’ Ellis said. “That’s not what her father wants. She’s got to come in there and work and prove herself not just to the trustees but everyone in the organization.’’

But while Brittany Bowlen is working with the Broncos, everyone will know. Everyone will assume she will be the one who will one day run the Broncos. Most likely, she will work at least two years with the team before she is considered ready to assume command.

It makes sense for Ellis to continue running the Broncos through the league’s next collective bargaining agreement negotiations in 2021. And then the transition is expected to begin.

Until then, Brittany will feel the pressure from everyone, including her co-workers, who will know she is the heir apparent to her father’s position as the Broncos’ principal owner.

“She will,” Ellis said.

Which is a situation the trustees want Brittany to experience.

“That’s right,’’ Ellis said. “That’s part of it. How you conduct yourself, present yourself with all that you do. But you’ve got to prove yourself with your work and your judgment, your character. I’m confident she’ll do very well.”

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