By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Broncos fans began honoring the late Pat Bowlen by visiting his statue in front of Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Bowlen passed away Thursday night at the age of 75.

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“Winning. Winning. Work hard, play hard,” said fan Amador Rodriguez remembering Bowlen.”The Broncos are special to me and my family and the city of Denver and I felt like it was the right thing to do.”

“It’s a loss, it’s just like a family member that’s just passed away. You can’t describe it. It’s just like his son said, he was the blood of the city, Pat Bowlen was the blood of the city and he truly was,” said Devyn Peace.

Pat Bowlen owner of the Denver Broncos, with his wife Annabel Bowlen to his right, holds the Lombardi Trophy after the Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. (credit: Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Devyn describes himself as a die-hard Broncos fan. He heard the news at 3 a.m. Friday.

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“I was just like, ‘Man, you know, it’s kind of like the heart of the city’ Literally,” Devyn said.

“Pain, sadness, just memories, how great he was, how great he is,” said James Chavez.

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James has been attending Broncos games as the Orange Vader for 15 years.

“We give a mile high salute to Pat Bowlen. We love him and it’s real hard right now, I’m going to miss him,” James said.

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He and his wife came to the statue in front of Broncos Stadium to remember and honor Mister B.

“Just put everything that he had, his wisdom into this great team that he gave us.”

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“I’m going to continue to pray. Pray for a cure so nobody ever has to go through this again,” said Isabel Chavez.

Isabel is a CNA and cares for those suffering with dementia and Alzheimer’s, the same disease that would slowly rob the world of the late Broncos owner.

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“It’s the worst thing in the world to know that your loved one is suffering. They are still there, but they’re not, and it’s the hardest thing on a family member to see that,” she said.

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Devyn came out to the stadium to place a lei on the statue commemorating Pat Bowlen, reminiscent of when Bowlen was put in the Ring of Fame.

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“They were all out here when he went into the Ring of Fame and put his statue up there and I remember them putting wreaths on his statue and I thought that was pretty cool so I brought a couple out here and put them up there.”

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PHOTO GALLERY: Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen (1944-2019)

The lei is a Hawaiian tradition, to show affection upon arrival or leaving. Although Bowlen is gone, Devyn believes he’ll never go far.

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“This is the house that Pat built, he’ll be here looking on forever. Bucky,” he said pointing to the top of the bronco statue and then to the statue of Bowlen, “Pat… it’s not a coincidence.”

As Isabel and James pray for the Bowlen family, they struggle with how best to reconcile the loss of a giant and at the same time move forward, honoring his legacy.

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“He was huge part of Bronco country. He was Bronco Country. So it’s going to be kind of sad to look up and know that he’s not there with us anymore,” said Isabel.

“Keep that orange and blue, that’s what we do and just keep rooting for the Denver Broncos,” added James.

The Denver Broncos and the Bowlen family to host a public tribute for Pat Bowlen from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. It will take place in the United Club Level West Lounge and will include memorabilia from his ownership as well as pictures and video celebrating his life.

Joel Hillan


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