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Timeline: The life and career of beloved Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen

Posted: 12:14 PM, Jun 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-14 16:31:18-04
Pat Bowlen.jpg

DENVER – Longtime Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen died Thursday night after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's , his family announced in a statement.

Bowlen, 75, who stepped away from the team in 2014, oversaw one of the most successful franchises in NFL history, as the Broncos won three Super Bowls and appeared four others during his three-decade tenure in Denver.

A public celebration of life for late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen will be held Tuesday, June 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, the team announced Friday.

Bowlen left behind his wife, Annabel Bowlen, and seven adult children. Here is a timeline of the beloved owner's life and career:

Feb. 18, 1944. Bowlen is born in Prairie du Chien, Wisc., a city of 6,000 people on the Mississippi River, to his parents, Paul and Arvella Bowlen. Pat Bowlen grew up playing hockey and football and running track. He was a starting wide receiver at Campion High School.

1962. After graduating high school, Bowlen attended the University of Oklahoma, his father's alma mater. Bowlen played football at OU during his freshman year, but left the team and turned his attention to academics, majoring in business and law.

1960s. After graduating from OU, Bowlen opened a law practice in Edmonton, Canada, and began making a fortune in real estate, oil, gas and other natural resources.

March 1984. Bowlen and his siblings buy a 60.8% interest in the Broncos franchise for $78 million, taking control of the team from Edgar Kaiser. Bowlen, a fitness enthusiast who finished an Ironman Triathlon shortly before buying the Broncos, later told the New York Times that he was a "frustrated as an athlete" after turning 40.

"Time had passed me by," Bowlen said. "I wasn't doing as well in the triathlon as I wanted. And then the opportunity to buy a football team came up. It's what I wanted all my life."

1986-1990. The Broncos see immediate success under Bowlen, reaching three Super Bowls in four seasons and beating the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Championship each time. But Denver, under head coach Dan Reeves and led by young star quarterback John Elway, couldn't get over the hump, losing all three Super Bowls by a combined score of 163-50.

January 1998. Bowlen and Elway finally break through, as the Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers for their first Super Bowl win. After the game, Bowlen accepted the Lombardi Trophy, then bellowed into the public address microphone: “There’s one thing I want to say here tonight and it’s only four words: This ... one’s ... for ... John!” The Broncos defended their title, beating the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl in 1999.

2008-2009. After nearly a decade of up-and-down results, Bowlen fires longtime Broncos coach Mike Shanahan after the 2008 season. Bowlen then hires New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. In May 2009, Bowlen tells Denver Post columnist Woody Paige that he was beginning to experience short-term memory loss but felt he was in good health.

December 2010. After a 3-9 start to the season, Bowlen fires McDaniels. He later hires former Carolina Panthers coach John Fox as the team's new head coach.

July 2014. Stepping away from the franchise as he battles Alzheimer's, Bowlen transfers control of the team to his trust and president/CEO Joe Ellis.

February 2015. Under new coach Gary Kubiak and veteran quarterback Peyton Manning, the Broncos win Super Bowl 50, beating the Carolina Panthers, 24-10. Reminiscent of 1998, Elway accepts the Lombardi Trophy and bellows into the mic: "This one's for Pat!"

November 2015. Bowlen is inducted into the Broncos' Ring of Fame. The team honors the owner with a statue outside of Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

February 2019. The Pro Football Hall of Fame announces its 2019 class, which includes Bowlen. The late owner will be enshrined in August, joining the likes of Jerry Jones, Art Rooney and Al Davis as team owners in the Hall.