Pat Bowlen, the Denver Broncos owner who won two Super Bowls and oversaw one of the NFL's most consistently competitive franchises, is giving up control of the team after acknowledging to The Denver Post that he has Alzheimer's disease.
"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," Annabel Bowlen said in a statement to the Post. "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."
Joe Ellis, the Broncos' team president since 2011, takes over the day-to-day operations of the team from Bowlen. The longtime owner's stake in the team was placed in the Pat Bowlen Trust, the team told the Post in a statement, with the intention for the franchise to be taken over by one of his children. The team is not expected to be up for sale.
Since Bowlen bought the team in 1984, the Broncos have won more than 300 games and been to six Super Bowls. The franchise won its first two championships behind quarterback John Elway, who now serves as the team's general manager and executive vice president of football operations, in 1997 and '98.
"It's a really, really sad day," Ellis said, per the 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."