by Aaron Wilson
July 23, 02014
Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has stepped down as controlling owner of the team as he deals with Alzheimer's disease.
Team president Joe Ellis will run the team.
"It's a really, really sad day," Ellis told the Denver Post. "It's sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It's sad for everyone in the organization. And it's sad for all the Bronco fans who know what Pat Bowlen meant to them as an owner. It's a day nobody wanted to see happen."
Bowlen, 70, has given final-say regarding team decisions to Ellis. Football operations are run by general manager John Elway.
The Broncos aren't being sold, and one of Bowlen's seven children will eventually run the team.
"As many in the Denver community and around the National Football League have speculated, my husband, Pat, has very bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer's disease for the last few years," wife Annabel Bowlen said in a statement. "He has elected to keep his condition private because he has strongly believed, and often said, 'It's not about me.'
"Pat has always wanted the focus to be solely on the Denver Broncos and the great fans who have supported this team with such passion during his 30 years as owner. My family is deeply saddened that Pat's health no longer allows him to oversee the Broncos, which has led to this public acknowledgment of such a personal health condition."
Bowlen's mother died from Alzheimer's in 2006.
"This is a sad day for the NFL," commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Pat Bowlen's leadership has been critical to the success of the Broncos and the entire NFL. From building a championship team that is a pillar of the community to his important work for the league on television and labor matters, Pat's love of the game drove him and we have all benefited from his passion and wisdom.
"But the time has come for Pat to focus on his health and we fully support him. Joe Ellis has been a trusted executive for Pat for many years after working with us at the league office. Joe's deep experience ensures that the Broncos will continue to have strong leadership."
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun