Bowlen’s long goodbye

It’s not unusual for National Football League owners to achieve celebrity status. After all, many are the face of the franchise. Daniel Snyder, Jerry Jones and the late Al Davis are examples of household names.

Pat Bowlen probably doesn’t have that kind of national name recognition, but you can bet your Randy Gradishar jersey that here in Broncos country, Bowlen is as every bit as well-known as the governor.

Bowlen acquired the Broncos in 1984. Since then they’ve won six AFC titles and two Super Bowls while averaging 10 wins a season. He consistently produced winning football teams in a quiet, understated manner.

On Wednesday, the Broncos announced that Bowlen, 70, was giving up control of the team because of Alzheimer’s disease. Bowlen’s family agreed to make public the condition he’s dealt with privately for several years, saying the community and the fan base deserved to know what was going on.

We applaud the fortitude and courage to make such an acknowledgement. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a national health concern. It’s the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., killing 500,000 people a year. There’s no cure.

There’s no sugar-coating the debilitating effects of the disease, which robs victims of their cognitive ability. It’s often called “the long goodbye” because it ravages victims over a period of years, gradually deteriorating mind and body.

Singling out John Elway, the Broncos’ Hall of Fame quarterback, Bowlen proclaimed, “This one’s for John,” when he hoisted the Lombardi trophy for the first time after the Broncos beat Green Bay in the Super Bowl in 1998.

“This one’s for Pat” will be the Broncos’ battle cry in 2014.


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