ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It appears inevitable the Broncos are heading for sale through auction.
Joe Ellis, the Broncos’ chief executive officer and one of three trustees to the Patrick D. Bowlen Trust that holds the franchise, has not yet declared the team will be put up for sale, stating he would make an announcement soon after general manager George Paton hires the team’s next head coach.
But if the Broncos are put up for sale, as multiple sources close to the situation expect, John Elway would like to be part of the new ownership group.
“Who knows where that is and where that falls, but I do have interest in being a part of it,’’ Elway said Monday in an interview with 9NEWS. “The Broncos have been in my life for 40 years, so I’d love to be a part of it. So it’s a matter of seeing how everything plays out and what’s going to happen. I’m sure there will be a lot of things going on, but I would definitely like to be involved.”
Elway, 61, is unquestionably the best player in Broncos’ history as his 16-year career as the team’s quarterback from 1983-1998 included five Super Bowl appearances, two world championships and first-ballot induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He returned in 2011 to begin a 10-year run as the team’s general manager, building rosters that set offensive records while making it to the Super Bowl in 2013, then re-shaping it just two years later so a defensive-dominant team won the Super Bowl in 2015.
After winning five consecutive AFC West Division titles in his first five seasons as GM, the Broncos missed the playoffs in his next five seasons.
After the 2020 season, Elway decided it would be best to give a new set of eyes and fresh outlook a chance at the top job. He helped hire his successor, George Paton, then stepped back in a consultant role.
It’s the type of role Elway would like to continue with the new owner, if indeed the Broncos are put up for sale. Forbes listed the value of the Broncos' franchise last year at $3.75 billion. To be clear, Elway doesn't have the type of financial wherewithal to become the controlling owner. As he pointed out, if the team sells for $4 billion, 1% is $40 million.
He may have enough to invest as a limited partner, which is fine because Elway does not want a lead role.
“I’m not looking to be the face of the franchise,’’ Elway said. “Whoever puts up that kind of money and whoever is that owner, it’s their franchise. It’s their team. My hope would be to help support the new owner. ‘Hey, I’m here with you. I’m here to support you. I’m here to help you in the community. I’m here to help you with the understanding of football, how everything works, and be around and be an advisor and someone who can help if they have questions because George is going to run football but he’s not going to have a lot of time. So if I can be that guy that helps the new owner understand Denver as well as on the football side. I think I can help do both for them. I don’t want to be the face.’’
The second-best quarterback in Broncos' history, Peyton Manning, is also possibly interested in an attachment to the possible new ownership group, sources told 9NEWS. For now, Manning is listening to prospective investors who call him, but has not committed to any potential group, sources say.
If the team is put up for sale, a legal source familiar with the Broncos' ownership transition told 9News that it would likely be through auction because the team is under the Patrick D. Bowlen Trust umbrella. This means the trustees would have a fiduciary responsibility to the trust's beneficiaries (the seven Bowlen children, and Pat's brother John) to go with the highest bidder, pending approval from 24 of the NFL's 32 owners.
"It's been my life, so I'd like to stay involved,'' Elway said. "We'll see how everything goes but the bottom line is I think I can help the new owner. It should be their club. And it’s the coaches, it’s the players, and it’s George’s club. I want to be here in a support role with all the knowledge I have around the league so I can in that area. I don’t want to overshadow an owner.’’
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