DENVER — Pat Bowlen created the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1984, and while all of his current and former players say “Mr. B” wouldn’t want the recognition, it wouldn’t be complete without him.
Mr. Bowlen became the 28th member of the Broncos Ring of Fame on Sunday night, and he played a huge role in all of the names you see forever inscribed at Mile High.
“He set a culture and that culture is being passed on every year,” former wide receiver and fellow Ring of Fame member Rod Smith said. “And it starts with one guy, Mr. Bowlen.”
More than 40 players and coaches from the Broncos 1997 Super Bowl team and 20 members of the Ring of Fame all came to Denver for one reason this weekend.
“To have as many people here tonight just gives you an idea what they thought of him because you don’t have that many players come back for a dedication unless the owner really meant something special to everyone on this football team,” said former Head Coach Mike Shanahan.
Mr. Bowlen, who continues his battle with Alzheimer’s, was not able to attend Sunday night’s ceremony. His wife Annabel and family were there on his behalf.
“We just wish him the best,” former kicker Jason Elam said. “Our prayers are with him. He’s the best owner in all of sports, he always treated us in such a first class manner. He gave us every resource that we needed and I just couldn’t imagine playing for a better boss. I got to do it for 15 years here in Denver and it was a huge blessing.”
We could go on and on about Mr. B’s accolades, the best winning percentage in the NFL during his 32 years as owner, two Super Bowl championships. But his former players say Sunday night wasn’t just about what he did for the Broncos on the field, but just as much what he meant to them personally.
“I always say the best complement you can give an owner when you don’t think about how it is to play for another owner. To me that’s a great compliment, because I never wanted to play for anybody else but Pat Bowlen and the personal relationship that we built here since I’ve been here has been great,” fellow Ring of Fame member and former running back Terrell Davis said.
And for all of Broncos country, Mr. B’s reign lives on.
“It’s a special night for us because of Mr. Bowlen and what he assembled years ago and he’s done the same thing again with this football team,” Smith said. “He’s put the resources in place, he’s put the coaching staff in place, and he’s going to give them a chance to shine.”