At an opportune time to pocket three billion American dollars by selling the Broncos, the Bickering Bowlens have decided instead to trample on their father’s memory and hurl mud at each other in court.
Stupid is as stupid does.
Less than 48 hours after coach Vic Fangio put the final bungling touches on a disappointing 5-11 season, I asked team CEO Joe Ellis when the Bowlen family feud will end and the Broncos will have a legit owner in place to guide a foundering franchise back to respectability.
“I can’t predict,” Ellis replied Tuesday.
But he stressed it’s in the best interests of the organization, the fans and the Bowlen family to get the ownership mess resolved. “They deserve an answer,” Ellis said.
During the next contentious 12 months, I don’t know whether Brittany Bowlen can win control of the football team Mr. B built, or whether Beth Bowlen Wallace will force a sale. But I’m fairly certain who’s going to be the loser in this ugly dispute:
The Broncos. And everybody who loves them.
If the bickering Bowlen heirs today planted a for-sale sign outside Empower Field at Mile High, the team would be the most cherished rich man’s toy available on the U.S. market. I’d wager the sale could be closed, with the new owner on the scene in Denver, no later than October.
But the crazy Bowlen kids would rather overturn the family dinner table, rub the pot roast all over their chests and have a knock-down, drag-out fight in a court room, while John Elway takes an awkward victory lap into retirement with a team that hasn’t been a winner since 2016.
Stupid doesn’t have the sense to know when it’s time to quit.
While fans would much rather concentrate on whether Denver can beat Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes just one stinking time, there’s only one game that matters on the Broncos’ schedule in 2021. Kickoff is July 12 in Arapahoe County District Court, where it will be argued if the late Pat Bowlen was mentally competent or unduly manipulated when he approved a convoluted plan to transfer control of the team to one of his seven children from two marriages.
From a hopelessly lost on-field identity to a lack of accountability for a company culture gone stale, the Broncos have far too many issues to be bickering about who should be their owner. The league has potential buyers knocking on commissioner Roger Goodell’s door. If the Bowlen family decided right now to sell, it’s very reasonable to believe the deal could close and new ownership could be approved within nine months.
Stupid doesn’t begin to describe the level of ire among Broncos players and fans alike.
“We’ve got to get better as a team. There’s a lot of frustration, and it boils over to anger. And I’ve witnessed it in the locker room after some losses this year,” Ellis said.
“It carries over to when the players leave and the staff and coaches leave the building, and it carries over into the community. I listen and I watch and I read and I know what’s going on. All of (the frustration and anger) is justified. We have to do something to stop that. There’s one thing you can do to stop that, and that is to win. And we’ve got to win. We can’t go on this way.”
I don’t have a vote but it would be cool if Brittany Bowlen gained control of the team for reasons far beyond doing her Dad proud.
In a male-dominated sport, Brittany possesses the smarts and toughness to make a statement with far more powerful kick than the extra point Sarah Fuller scored for Vanderbilt this past season. A strong female executive guiding day-to-day operations of an NFL franchise would score major points for diversity in a game that sorely lacks it at the leadership level.
While it’s considered blasphemy to do anything but sing hosanna for the late, great Mr. B, he did his family and the Broncos a serious disservice by not identifying Brittany as the one chosen to fill his executive chair, unwittingly turning the line of succession into an awkward game of musical chairs that puts Ellis in the middle of a family feud.
After wrestling with each other in court, I seriously doubt if the Bowlen kids will ever be able to make peace and allow Brittany to take control, rather than sell the team, pocket the money and go their separate ways.
“That’s complicated. And that has to be worked out. There has to be a conclusion to that and an understanding, if Brittany’s going to run the team. There does. There’s just no other way around,” Ellis said.
The bottom line: If we still don’t know the identity of the next Broncos owner one year from today, what would it be?
Stupid to the nth degree.
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