Broncos president Joe Ellis backs Brittany Bowlen as team's controlling owner, but team could still be sold

One key member of the Denver Broncos knows who should have controlling ownership over the Broncos next, but convincing the Bowlen family could prove difficult. Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis believes Brittany Bowlen — daughter of late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen — is the only family member capable of taking over the team.

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While that’s a strong vote of confidence for Brittany Bowlen, the rest of the family may not see it that way. And if the family can’t come together and agree on a successor, the Bowlens may be forced to sell the Broncos.

The whole issue extends back to 2013, when Pat Bowlen stepped away from the Broncos due to Alzheimer’s. Bowlen left the Broncos with three trustees, including Joe Ellis. In 2015, those trustees revealed Bowlen’s long-term plans for the Broncos, including what criteria had to be met in order for the trustees to approve one of Bowlen’s children as the controlling owner. Pat Bowlen died in June.

Those plans called for someone with strong leadership, at least two degrees and five years of experience with the NFL, the Broncos or the company that runs the Broncos’ home stadium.

In 2018, Beth Wallace — one of Pat Bowlen’s daughters — attempted to take control of the team, but the trustees rejected her. Since then, multiple lawsuits have been filed. One, filed by Pat Bowlen’s brother Bill, attempted to dismantle the trustees. Another, filed by two of Pat Bowlen’s daughters, Wallace and Amie Klemmer, argues Pat Bowlen did not have the mental capacity to sign the estate documents in 2009.

Meanwhile, Brittany Bowlen, 29, re-joined the team in December as its vice president of strategic initiatives. Ellis has spoken highly of Brittany Bowlen, saying “she’s done a terrific job.”

While Ellis is one of the trustees, his opinion doesn’t matter unless the entire Bowlen family signs off on the move. Ellis expressed concern about that Monday, telling reporters a sale is still possible if the family cannot agree on the selection.

Given the animosity between all parties, it’s unclear what will happen next. The Bowlen family can put aside those differences and retain the Broncos, or the siblings can continue fighting and lose the franchise.


Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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