ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos' most recent Pro Football Hall of Famer believes the team’s owner, Pat Bowlen, should, and will, receive the honor sooner rather than later.
Terrell Davis, who is in the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017, made his first visit to the team’s complex this week since he was selected for enshrinement. And among the many topics he covered was Bowlen and the Hall.
“I am confident that Pat Bowlen is going in," Davis said. “It’s a question of when. We’ve got to get more momentum behind it, but I think he’s going in. I can’t wait for that day to happen."
Bowlen has been among those considered in the “contributors" category, which was separated in 2014 from other modern-era candidates and considered separately from players and coaches. Changes in the Hall of Fame’s bylaws allowed two contributors to be nominated as finalists in 2015 and 2017.
One contributor will be nominated as a finalist this year.
In 2015, Bill Polian and Ron Wolf were both nominated as finalists, and both were selected for enshrinement. In 2016, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was nominated as a finalist and selected for enshrinement.
And last February, Jerry Jones and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue were nominated as finalists, but only Jones was selected for enshrinement. Davis believes Bowlen’s resume is as good, or better, than those who already have been enshrined.
“Look at not only the history of the Broncos and the success on the field -- Pat Bowlen has run a first-class franchise since way before I got here," Davis said. “It’s in the stats, just look at the numbers. It’s one of the most successful winning franchises in the NFL."
Even with last season’s playoff miss – a 9-7 finish – the Broncos have still had more Super Bowl appearances (seven) than losing seasons (five) since Bowlen purchased the team in 1984. The Broncos have won 13 division titles in that span.
Bowlen stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the team in the summer of 2014 due to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The team is now operated out of a trust Bowlen put in place over a decade ago.
Broncos president Joe Ellis said Bowlen’s approach and beliefs still guide the team’s day-to-day operations. Ellis has said people in the front-office “know what he would want and that’s how we go about our jobs.’’
Bowlen was a key figure in the negotiations on the $18 billion broadcast rights deal in 1998 (a record deal at the time) and served on nine different NFL committees during his day-to-day tenure. Bowlen was also on the front edge of the NFL’s international work and the Broncos played games in London, Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney, Barcelona and Mexico City because Bowlen believed in the idea of expanding the league’s footprint.
“He doesn’t get the credit, and a lot of it is because he didn’t want the credit," Davis said. “Don’t think about the big names. Talk to the players and talk to the fans. Talk to the media and talk to the people in Denver. They can tell you what a great owner Pat Bowlen is. That should make the decision for you."