As the Bowlen family feud for control of a football team valued at $3 billion rages on, at times it seems as if all that’s holding the Broncos together is a ring and a gold jacket.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame ring earned by the late Pat Bowlen will be presented Sunday to his family during halftime of the game between Denver and Tennessee.
There will be cheers, and undoubtedly a few tears, for Mr. B. He passed away in June after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, only weeks before the longtime franchise owner’s many contributions to the Broncos and the NFL were scheduled to be formally celebrated in Canton, Ohio.
“This was our first experience of losing an enshrinee after he was selected, but before he was enshrined. Understand the gold jacket and the ring are not really for the descendants of the Hall of Famer. They’re really for that Hall of Famer, (because) he is going into the Hall of Fame,” said David Baker, the president and CEO of the Hall.
Rather than squabble over possession of Mr. B’s ring and gold jacket, his children graciously agreed to make those football treasures available for all Broncomaniacs to share.
“I thought the Broncos and the Bowlen family were extremely classy, and we came to an agreement that the ring I present Sunday to the Bowlen family, along with the gold jacket, will be at the training center for fans to see from now on,” Baker said Saturday, during a telephone interview. “That, to me, expresses what Pat Bowlen would have wanted.”
Forever more, Mr. B’s ring and gold jacket will be prominently displayed at team headquarters. Could there be more perfect symbols of the excellence established by Bowlen during his tenure as owner, which saw the Broncos win three Super Bowl trophies?
But could the current squabble over future control of the Broncos be more imperfect, more awkward or more troubling for anyone who loves this franchise?
It was Baker who knocked on the door in February to inform the Bowlen family the ailing Mr. B had been elected to the Hall. It is Baker who will present the ring to the delight of the crowd at Empower Field at Mile High.