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Volume 25 No. 196
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Broncos' On-Field Play Just Part Of Turmoil Encompassing Team

Ownership power struggles and a lackluster record have plagued the Broncos this season
Photo: getty images

The Broncos at 6-8 could post their first back-to-back losing seasons in 46 years, and the team has become an "irrelevant franchise, affecting the number of no-shows at games, the profitability and popularity of the team and the plans to develop an entertainment center" south of Broncos Stadium at Mile High, according to Woody Paige of the Colorado Springs GAZETTE. Team President & CEO Joe Ellis "didn't want the potential of another power struggle within the organization" amid an ownership dispute between Owner Pat Bowlen's brother and his daughters. Despite Ellis' wishes, the "ownership/trustee disputes/lawsuit/controversies among family members are disrupting the Broncos." Sources said that Broncos President of Football Operations & GM John Elway and former coach Mike Shanahan "seriously discussed a deal last December" for Shanahan to return as the coach. But the contract "was not finalized" because Ellis, who also "serves on the Pat Bowlen Trust board, refused to agree." Ellis and Shanahan had "major conflicts" in the '00s, and Ellis' "authority base grew" as Pat Bowlen became more concerned with his memory-loss complications. Sources have said that Ellis "persuaded Bowlen to dump Shanahan" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 12/18).

NO END IN SIGHT: In Denver, Mark Kiszla wrote the stories on the "ownership squabble" have "all been driven" by Beth Bowlen-Wallace, Pat Bowlen's daughter from his first marriage. Bowlen-Wallace "understandably claims she is ready to take over now and feels shut out by the trust." Kiszla: "I am not so certain she has checked all the ownership boxes in a way that inspires much confidence." Pat Bowlen seemed to identify Brittany Bowlen as the "child most likely to carry on the family name in the football business before he ceded control to the trust." Bowlen-Wallace was "not impressive in her first stint with the Broncos," but the dispute between her and Ellis is "personal, maybe for no other reason than Ellis will not give Beth what she wants: control of her father's team" (, 12/17).