ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — On Tuesday night we learned former Walmart chairman Rob Walton was the Broncos new owner-in-waiting.
The next day, Joe Ellis, who is now the Broncos’ outgoing owner delegee, held a team meeting with his players.
Using photos on the projector screen, Ellis introduced the players to Walton, to incoming CEO Greg Penner, to his wife Carrie Walton Penner, who will also hold a prominent executive role, and to Mellody Hobson, whose role is undefined but also figures to have significant stature within the organization.
To the players, they want their new owners to realized that in football, there is business, and there are feelings, hearts and souls.
Starting left tackle Garett Bolles is a large man at 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, but with an even bigger heart. What is Bolles looking for from his new owners?
"Love," Bolles said following the Broncos’ final OTA practice Thursday. They will finish up their offseason program with three mandatory minicamp practices next week. "When you have people that love you and care for you, I think that speaks volumes. Some of us may be older, but we all want to feel that love and we all want people to be there.
"The last couple of years, we really haven’t had an owner around here. Joe Ellis has done a phenomenal job. Mr. (John) Elway has done a phenomenal job, but those guys knew that it was going to come to an end, and I know that we have a group here that wants to be here and wants to win. Just like Joe Ellis said, they bought this team because of us players with ‘Russ’ (Wilson) and the great success that we’re going to have with him and everyone else around us."
The player with the most team seniority is kicker Brandon McManus. Heads up Waltons. McManus is a union guy. Joking, people, joking. Seriously, like everyone else, McManus is excited about his new bosses.
"A lot of these guys have grown up in a bunch of different neighborhoods," McManus said. "They can read B.S. They know who is speaking the truth and who’s not. It’s a good thing to have a great niche in the locker room, and also a business and winning football team. These guys will play as hard as possible for you. Just get them to have that trust level with you. It’s a partnership. Obviously, they are writing our checks to us, but the closer you see us working together, you’ll have a better, successful team."
What the Waltons and Penners should know is players will want to win for them. They will want to like them. Even love them. Not because of their paychecks. The players get those regardless. But because of how they’re treated. Treat them well and the players will try every Sunday to honor their owners.
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