ENGLEWOOD – Joe Ellis didn’t proclaim Brittany Bowlen as the Chosen One exactly, but for the first time the Broncos’ chief executive officer openly threw his support behind the fifth of Pat Bowlen’s seven children to one day become the team’s chief owner.
On the eve of Broncos training camp Friday, it was warm beneath a tent set up on the concourse atop the viewing berm and practice fields at the team’s UCHealth Training Center headquarters. Ellis, who is also one of three trustees assigned to run the Pat Bowlen Trust, was holding his annual state-of-the-team’s press conference when he was asked about Brittany, who 9NEWS has reported as the clear favorite to one day succeed her father as the team’s top executive.
“She's expressed an interest to us, I will say that,’’ Ellis said. “She's taken some steps, some good steps along the way, in terms of education.’’
Ellis then went through Brittany’s resume – which is impressive for someone who is about to retire from a long corporate career, much less a 28-year old with many of here ambitious goals still ahead of her.
“We'll see where it goes from there, we're not anointing anybody or anything like that, but she certainly has expressed an interest and she knows it's going to take some time for her to get ready,’’ Ellis said.
“She's not ready yet. She's admitted that to us. We'll see where it goes, but she has expressed an interest."
Ordinarily, the biggest news from the Broncos’ training camp opening press conferences come from general manager John Elway or the head coach, in this case Vance Joseph. But with the team coming off a 5-11 season at a time when there’s been so much off-field news – or shall we call it upper management fireworks -- in recent weeks, Ellis was the headliner.
Two months ago, another Pat Bowlen daughter, Beth Bowlen Wallace, announced through a press release she is “throwing her hat in the ring’’ to take the lead ownership role of the Broncos.
The three trustees of the Pat Bowlen Trust – Ellis, team general counsel Rich Slivka and attorney Mary Kelly – fired back with a statement that renounced Bowlen Wallace’s bid.
“As trustees honoring the clear wishes of Pat, we have thoroughly evaluated whether Beth is capable of succeeding her father as controlling owner. We have determined that she is not capable or qualified at this time.’’
Ellis declined to elaborate Friday on the Trust’s statement regarding Beth Bowlen Wallace. Specifically, Ellis was twice asked why she is not capable or qualified.
“We addressed a press release that she issued in a form of our own release … ,’’ Ellis said. “That's all I really want to say on that at this time.”
Ellis and the Trust did get a vote of confidence from Elway, who was the team’s star quarterback from 1983-1998 and has been running the football operations department since 2011.
“I work for Joe and I will tell you this: I have no worries about what is going on with ownership,’’ Elway said. “I have zero. … I will just tell you, I’ve had zero heartburn when it comes down to what is going on with the ownership because it’s not going to affect what we do on the field.
“I think that the plan that is in place will get executed and it will work out the way it is meant to work out.”
At this point, it appears that the plan is Brittany or bust.
With all signs pointing toward Brittany taking control of the team in four or five years, selling the team is an option, although Ellis indicated that would not be the way to bet.
“Pat said if no child is qualified, then you should sell the team, but he would like us to make every effort to see if a child is capable of, has the ability to, and has earned the right to sit in his chair,” Ellis said.
Broncos’ management has other issues like putting a permanent name on its stadium. The Broncos and stadium district have been looking for a naming sponsor since Sports Authority went bankrupt prior to the 2016 season.
After making the questionable decision of keeping the defunct retailer’s name on the venue the past two seasons, the Broncos finally placed a temporary, and more appropriate, moniker on its game-day home for this season: Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
“Yeah, it’s like Groundhog Day isn’t it?’’ Ellis said with a smile. “You’ve asked this question the last three years. Yeah, it has taken a little bit longer. But the longer it takes -- actually seeing the landscape and then talking to people -- the more patient I become.
“It sounds kind of quirky, I understand, but it’s very important that we get the right partner. It’s very important that we do a deal for the long-term viability of the building. I wouldn’t want to see the next owner of this team, several years down the road, faced with the challenge of trying to build a new stadium.’’
Ellis didn’t say it, but maybe he wanted to: Several years down the road, Brittany Bowlen will have enough challenges taking control of the team without worrying about having to campaign taxpayers for a new stadium – as her father did successfully in the late-1990s.