SANTA CLARA, Calif. (CBS4) – The Denver Broncos have been in the business of winning for more than three decades, and it has started at the top with owner Pat Bowlen.

But as the Broncos prepare for their battle with the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, Bowlen is unable to be with the team due to his battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“You know, he’s doing the best he can fighting a terrible disease,” Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis told CBS4. “He’s resting comfortably at home. I wish he were here with us here now; he’d really enjoy this. But unfortunately he can’t be, and I know he’s here in spirit.”

CBS4's Mark Haas interviews Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Mark Haas interviews Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis (credit: CBS)

It has been a couple of years since Bowlen has been able to address the team, so before the team departed on their trip to the San Francisco Bay area last weekend, Ellis spoke to the players on Bowlen’s behalf.

“I told them how much he would love this team and their resolve and how hard they’ve fought, how well they’ve conducted themselves on and off the field this year,” Ellis said. “He’d be enormously proud of this team and I wanted them to know that.”

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib was among the players who said afterwards that they appreciated Ellis’ words and called Ellis’s speech “heartfelt.”

Pat Bowlen, left, and Joe Ellis, right (file photo credit: CBS)

Pat Bowlen, left, and Joe Ellis, right (file photo credit: CBS)

Quarterback Peyton Manning told reporters this week that Bowlen deserves a lot of credit for the success they’ve had since he arrived in Denver four years ago.

“There’s no way that any of us would be in this position without the support and the role that Pat Bowlen has done as an owner,” Manning said. “We’re trying to do our part to honor him.”

And what better way to honor Bowlen than to thank him in the exact same way that he honored John Elway after the Super Bowl XXXII win when he declared “This one’s for John!” and handed him the Lombardi Trophy.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“Pat would never want it to be for him. He’d want it to be about them and he’d want them to win it for each other. And I hope the players do do that. But it would be nice — and the right thing to do at the end — to have John stand up there and honor Pat up there on the platform for sure,” Ellis said.

Bowlen is already a member of the Broncos Ring of Fame. Ellis thinks the next honor Bowlen gets should be an election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Denver Broncos Carolina Panthers Super Bowl 50 logo


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