ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If the Broncos were judged on how they conduct their business of football and not through their on-field product, they would still be considered a championship-caliber NFL franchise.
Forbes released its annual NFL franchise values Thursday and the Broncos came in at No. 10 at $3.75 billion. That’s up 17% from last year when the team was valued at $3.2 million and represents a whopping 223% increase since the end of the 2013 season, when Peyton Manning’s offensive record-setting Broncos were valued at $1.61 billion.
Now if only the business of the Broncos’ franchise could translate to their football department. Denver has missed the playoffs five consecutive years, and have suffered four consecutive losing seasons in which their average record is slightly worse than 6-10.
The two most recent NFL team sales say Forbes’ sports franchise value estimates are not to be dismissed. In 2014, the Pegulas, Terry and Kim, paid $1.4 billion for the Buffalo Bills, well more than Forbes’ estimated value of $935 million. In 2018, David Tepper bought the Carolina Panthers for $2.275 billion, slightly less than Forbes’ previous estimated value of $2.3 billion.
In other words, there are seven children and one brother of Broncos’ late owner Pat Bowlen who just had their financial portfolios padded substantially. Pat Bowlen died in 2019 from complications from Alzheimer’s. John Bowlen, Pat’s brother, owns 22% non-voting minority interest in the team – valued at $825 million, according to Forbes. Each of Pat Bowlen’s seven children – Amie, Beth, Pat, John, Brittany, Christianna and Annabel – each own 11.14%, or roughly $418 million apiece.
Joe Ellis, the Broncos’ controlling owner delegee as one of three trustees for the Pat Bowlen Trust and the team’s chief executive officer and president, said on July 27 that soon after this season, the trustees would begin the process of transferring the team’s ownership.
"Selling the team is always possible," Ellis said then. "That’s one. And if it’s going to stay in the family, Brittany is the other option but there are certain conditions that will go with that and it could come in various forms which could lead to one or two other options."
The new owner – whether an outside investor or Brittany Bowlen – is expected to be in place before the start of the 2022 season.
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