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Longtime Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, a three-time Super Bowl winner who was to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, died Thursday night at 75, the team said.
Since Bowlen purchased the team from Edgar Kaiser in 1984, the Broncos have had 354 overall wins (third-most in the NFL), 18 playoff berths, 13 division titles, seven Super Bowl appearances and three Super Bowl victories.
The franchise’s 21 winning seasons and 18 postseason appearances are the most under a single owner in the NFL since 1984. Denver has also sold out 300 consecutive games under Bowlen’s ownership.
“A huge reason that I came to Denver was I knew Mr. Bowlen was all about winning,” quarterback Peyton Manning told KMGH-TV in May. “And I knew that I was on the clock and wasn’t going to be able to play 12 more years. I knew the Broncos were about winning and winning now.”
Bowlen had stepped down from day-to-day operations of the team in 2014 to continue his fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
“Nobody cared about players more than Mr. Bowlen,” said longtime Broncos trainer Steve “Greek” Antonopulos, who was to serve as Bowlen’s presenter during the enshrinement ceremony. “He liked to communicate with them, not because he wanted to rub elbows, but because he cared about him. And, you know what, that was important to see that from the standpoint of caring for players ourselves, seeing him care about players.”
He also served on many NFL committees and was chairman of the NFL Broadcasting Committee and NFL Management Council Executive Committee, which dealt with labor issues.
“Pat Bowlen had a competitive spirit with a great sense of humor. As fun-loving as he was, he always wanted us to understand the big picture,” his family said in a statement. “We will forever remember his kindness and humility.”