CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Two open spots. Thirty-two years of excellence as an owner, as a pioneer of league growth internationally and in broadcast agreements.
Pat Bowlen owns Hall of Fame credentials. But his wait for immortality continues.
The Broncos boss failed to make the list as a contributor finalist in Tuesday's sub-committee vote. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue were selected.
Bowlen brought a strong resume to the table. The Broncos have reached the Super Bowl seven times under his watch, winning three, including Super Bowl 50. He has endured five losing seasons since buying the team in 1984 for $78 million. Bowlen, who ceded day-to-day control of the team in 2014 as he battles Alzheimer's disease, worked to expand the NFL abroad, with the Broncos playing in games in London, Tokyo, Berlin, Barcelona, Mexico City and Sydney. He helped in labor negotiations as a one of the few owners trusted by union boss Gene Upshaw. And Bowlen spearheaded game-changing TV deals, including the creation of Sunday Night Football.
In the end, it was not enough. And it will be difficult to become a finalist next year as only one contributor will be nominated.
Once nominated, the final committee must approve the candidate the night before the Super Bowl. Typically, the nominees make it into the Hall of Fame, making Tuesday's news difficult for Broncos fans to digest. There has long been a feeling Denver has been under represented in the Hall of Fame, with linebacker Randy Gradishar and defensive back Louis Wright among those who have never gained traction. Four longtime Broncos are in the Hall of Fame: John Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Gary Zimmerman and Floyd Little.