KUSA – When the Pat Bowlen Trust fired back at Beth Bowlen Wallace’s press-released proclamation that she’s met all the criteria and she’s ready to become controlling owner of the Denver Broncos, the trustees indicated in their strongly-worded response she was not the only child interested in succeeding their father.
A Bowlen daughter is getting closer to one day taking control of the team but it appears unlikely it is Beth.
Introducing, Brittany Bowlen.
Family and Trust sources – including the man himself, owner Pat Bowlen -- have been telling 9NEWS for years that Brittany Bowlen is the child with the best chance to one day lead the team.
The Trust, it should be noted, is not sitting on the team, but is working to identify a successor, per the wishes of Pat Bowlen, who has become incapacitated by Alzheimer’s, a disease of progressive mental deterioration.
Not only does Brittany Bowlen appear to have strong interest in one day leading the Broncos, she is also taking significant steps to become qualified – at least as much as one can -- for the enormous responsibility that is controlling owner of a franchise that was most recently valued at $2.6 billion.
Brittany Bowlen is 28 and on a career fast track as can be gleaned from the information below.
Earlier, 9NEWS looked at how Beth Bowlen-Wallace measured up against five of the major components the Trust has set forth to any of Pat Bowlen’s seven children who are interested in eventually becoming the team’s owner.
Here, we measure Brittany against the same criteria. For this report, Brittany declined comment. It appears she is going about her business with the same understated approach her father took during his 30-plus years of governing the Broncos.
- Education component where an advanced degree is encouraged
The Trust seems sensitive to the notion its criteria can be simplified into a checklist. If it was, Brittany could check off this box in bold marker.
She graduated from Notre Dame, a top 20 academic school according to Forbes Magazine, with a finance degree in 2013. She had a grade-point average of 3.8.
While at Notre Dame she interned for NBC Sports, whose chairman at the time, Dick Ebersol, has been Pat Bowlen’s most vocal supporter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In a Sports Illustrated article published Feb. 2, 2016 in advance of Super Bowl 50, Greg Bishop wrote: “For years, Pat told friends that his daughter Brittany, according to one, had a real chance to be the first significant female owner in NFL history.’’’
Last month, Brittany finished her Master’s and Business Administration (MBA) degree from the acclaimed Fuqua School of Business at Duke.
There is little doubt she meets the education guideline set forth by the Trust.
- Five years employment with the team or league
After getting her degree from Notre Dame, Brittany moved to New York where she worked full-time in the league office for two years, spanning the calendar years of 2013-15, as part of its rotational program. She worked six months each in four departments: Club business development; Business intelligence with media partnerships; corporate communication and community relations.
It was Brittany’s work with the league office that made it a poorly-kept secret she became the clear frontrunner to one day sit in her father’s chair.
Why? It’s worth noting Joe Ellis similarly left the Broncos to work with the league office in a variety of departments in the late-1980s. Ellis was named by Pat Bowlen as one of his three trustees and also appointed him as the team’s president and chief executive officer.
Titles aside, Ellis has essentially been Bowlen’s right-hand man since the late-1990s. Ellis believes an understanding of how the league operates is vital to running a team.
After Brittany’s two years in the league office, she returned home and worked with the Broncos as a business analyst during the team’s Super Bowl 50 season of 2015.
She spent most of her time in the finance department, specifically in evaluating sponsorship contracts and arrangements and comparing them with other teams around the league.
Among her tasks, she created an initial proposal to bring the NFL Draft to Denver. In doing this, she worked alongside four city offices on draft logistics, media integration and overall impact in the community.
She also analyzed financial statements for the organization.
But that’s only three years with the league and team when the Trust stated it prefers five years of experience.
Brittany, though, seems to understand she has more work to do before she’s ready to assume command.
If she remains interested in the top job, Brittany is expected to return to work with the Broncos as perhaps her final step.
- Financial and business acumen
This is where Brittany hits a home run. Start with her finance degree at Notre Dame. Then she got finance experience at the league level. Move on to working primarily in the finance department with the Broncos.
In the midst of getting her MBA at Duke, Brittany spent the summer of 2017 serving an internship with McKinsey & Company, a global management firm that consults with businesses on projects and improving operations.
Forbes in 2017 ranked McKinsey as the No. 2 consulting firm in the United States.
Her internship included frequent travel to help consult on business and organizational structuring issues.
Brittany apparently impressed her McKinsey bosses during her internship: She has accepted a position with the company on a full-time basis.
Why not come back to work a few more years with the Broncos? Keep in mind, Ellis has four years remaining on the five-year extension. His extension received NFL owners’ voter approval.
That will carry him through the league’s collective bargaining negotiations with the players union in 2021.
In the meantime, Brittany will continue getting as much varied business experience as possible.
One reason why John Elway had so much immediate success as the Broncos’ general manager was his extraordinary business acumen. His experiences in the automobile and restaurant industry carried over when it was time to fit talent into a payroll budget.
There may be another intangible Brittany has going for her: She grew up with her father at her mom and dad’s home in Denver, as did four other Bowlen children, Patrick, John, Annabel and Christianna.
- Hold positions of leadership
Brittany is getting experience in this area, and fast. While working in the NFL’s business development department, she led staff on various projects related to fan engagement and in-stadium experience.
In the league’s community relations department, she helped organize the 2014 Play 60 Challenge at Super Bowl 48 in New York (preceding a game that was otherwise forgettable to Broncos fans).
While pursuing her MBA at Duke, Brittany was involved in several campus leadership events.
Her role at McKinsey is expected to require her to work across many departments and businesses.
According to a trustee source, Brittany was very impressive in her ability to relate with others during the year she worked with the Broncos.
- An overarching, subjective component that calls for the trustees to make judgments on character, honesty and integrity
All indications are Brittany is strong in this key area. Various Trust and family sources say that while she is not quite ready, she’s hard-working, humble, thoughtful and confident.
If Brittany’s development continues at its current pace, there is a strong chance she could be ready to assume command of the Broncos early in the next decade.
While she would still be in her early 30s, go back and read Pat Bowlen’s last comprehensive interview in August 2013 with a current 9NEWS Broncos Insider who at the time was working for the Denver Post.
One of the takeaways was whether you’re in early 30s, or 40 – as Pat Bowlen was when he bought the Broncos – or 50 or 60, there are going to be growing pains with any new sports owner.
"When you get into this business, at an age when you're a lot younger than I am now, you don't really know what you're doing,’’ Bowlen said five years ago. “It takes you a while to adjust. To me it was a real challenge. It was a fun deal. You have your disappointments. You have your losses and your wins. When you come in and buy a football team, you don't really understand the picture until you're there for a while.''
The key, it seems, is how quickly one adapts. And some people either have that ability, or they don’t. Given the many accomplishments and credentials Brittany has already achieved, it appears she has a chance. A real strong chance to one day succeed her father.