The first day of training camp for the Denver Broncos began with tears.
John Elway broke down and needed to pause to compose himself several times Wednesday as he reflected on the revelation that Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has relinquished ownership of the team because he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“This place will never be the same,” Elway said.
Elway played for Bowlen from 1984-1998, and they won two Super Bowls together. After the first title, Bowlen shocked Elway when he handed him the Lombardi Trophy with the words, “This one’s for John.”
That moment forever linked Bowlen and Elway together. But their partnership was formalized even further in 2011, when Bowlen entrusted Elway with all football operations.
The Broncos have won the AFC West in each of the three seasons since. Last year advanced to their first Super Bowl since Elway retired.
“My job is to run the football side the way Pat Bowlen wants it to be run. Being around him for 30 years, I know what he wants,” Elway said.
To Elway, that means a singular focus on trying to win the Super Bowl, and that remains the goal for 2014 as players reported Wednesday to a somber Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Centre — the training center Bowlen named after his father.
Though Bowlen’s mental health has been deteriorating in recent years, he remained a fixture at the team facility. He was in his office nearly every day during training camp and the regular season, and frequently watched practice from the sidelines. He often would stop by into the offices of Elway or team president Joe Ellis, even as he had handed over the day-to-day responsibilities of running the team to those two men. Ellis on Wednesday assumed Bowlen’s title of Chief Executive Officer of the Broncos.
“He didn’t walk through the door this morning, and that’s hard for people. That’s really hard for people here and it’s really hard for his family,” Ellis said. “It’s really sad.”
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SOURCE: USA Today
Lindsay H. Jones