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Brother of Broncos owner files court motion to remove Joe Ellis, trustees from control of team

Posted: 6:29 PM, Oct 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-26 00:49:46-04

One of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen’s brothers asked a Colorado District Court on Thursday to remove the three-person trust in control of the team “due to their failure to uphold Pat Bowlen’s wishes and act in the best interest of Pat Bowlen, his family and the Broncos.”

Since Pat Bowlen stepped aside from his day-to-day duties in 2014 to battle Alzheimer’s, Joe Ellis, Rich Slivka and Mary Kelly have served as trustees for the Pat D. Bowlen Trust. Ellis, as the Broncos’ president and CEO, is the team’s point person at league meetings.

In a press release, Bill Bowlen said the trustees “have conflicts of interest that impair their ability to act impartially in Pat Bowlen’s best interest,” according to the petition, which was filed in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial.

Bill Bowlen asked the court to appoint an independent party to serve as conservator of Pat Bowlen’s estate, removing Ellis, Slivka and Kelly as agents of Bowlen.

“I am a huge fan of the Broncos, and have been for decades. Unfortunately, over the past 15 years, I’ve noticed that the operation of the Broncos has deteriorated, while my brother’s health has worsened,” Bill Bowlen said in a statement.

He continued, "I have real concerns with these trustees, their conduct and how they got to the positions they are in. They have little or no accountability to anybody but themselves. They have not complied with the rules of the NFL and I am uncomfortable with the way they have handled my brother’s affairs. I know what his wishes were, and these individuals are definitely not following them."

But according to a source, Bill has no legal enforceable right in the matter.

Broncos Insider Troy Renck said Thursday that this is an interesting move, as Bill has not had a stake in Broncos for more than 15 years.

Back in late spring, Bill expressed support for Beth Bowlen Wallace's bid to become owner. But the trust said several months ago she "was not capable or qualified to run" team. 

Just last Saturday, Brittany Bowlen said for the first time publicly that she wants to become controlling owner of team someday. Again, the Trust was established to determine if one of seven siblings was qualified. Beth Bowlen Wallace also seeks to become owner.

In a statement obtained by Renck, Dan Reilly, the legal counsel for the Pat Bowlen Trust said his office has not seen the lawsuit and first learned of it after our partners at The Denver Post broke the news

Reilley said that even though they are currently reviewing the matter, the counsel that submitted the complaint is the same one that has been representing Beth Bowlen Wallace. 

"The trustees will continue to execute Pat Bowlen's long-standing succession plan for the Denver Broncos in compliance with all NFL ownership policies," the statement reads. 

Broncos Insider Troy E. Renck contributed to this report.