CANTON, Ohio – Less than two months after his death due to Alzheimer’s, late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen joined his sport’s immortality here Saturday night with his posthumous induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A six-minute, 47-second video presentation preceded director of sports medicine Steve Antonopulos and six of Bowlen’s seven children taking the stage. Amie Klemmer, Beth Bowlen Wallace, and Patrick, Brittany, Annabel and Christanna Bowlen, each grabbed the cloth to unveil their father’s bronze bust.
Bowlen became the 16th team founder or owner to be inducted, joining contemporaries Lamar Hunt (Kansas City), Jerry Jones (Dallas), Wellington Mara (New York Giants), Eddie DeBartolo (San Francisco), Ralph Wilson (Buffalo), Al Davis (Oakland) and Dan Rooney (Pittsburgh).
Antonopulos, who was with the franchise for the entirety of Bowlen’s ownership tenure, was selected by Bowlen’s kids this spring to present him for induction.
In the video, Antonopulos and all seven Bowlen children provided memories.
“Mr. Bowlen was about football — football first, business second,” Antonopulos said. “He provided the stability our organization needed at the time.”
The video detailed Bowlen’s three Super Bowl losses before the team’s great triumphs — back-to-back titles in quarterback John Elway’s final two seasons.
“I remember running around the field (in San Diego) looking for him and when I found him, we both had tears in our eyes and hugged,” Wallace said. “It was an experience of a lifetime.”
Antonopulos said that in the post-game locker room, Bowlen told him, “Greek, we have to keep doing this. We have to keep this up.”
The Broncos did, repeating as champions.
“I was asking him about the Pro Football Hall of Fame — ‘What does it mean, Dad? Why is it such a big deal?’” Brittany Bowlen said on the video. “He said, ‘Brittany, the Hall of Fame is only where legends go; it means you were the greatest of all time.’ He was a legend. He has definitely set the bar for NFL owners.”
Antonopulos wrapped up the video by looking up with a point of the finger and saying, “Mr. B, this one’s for you.”
After the unveiling, Patrick Bowlen leaned over to kiss the bust and the kids and Antonopulos were greeted by the Broncos Hall of Famers, including Champ Bailey.
The Broncos reached the playoffs 18 times and had as many Super Bowl appearances as losing seasons (seven) under Bowlen.
Including the Class of 2019, there are 326 members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Among the Broncos with gold jackets in attendance Friday at the Gold Jacket Dinner or at the induction were Elway, running back Terrell Davis, tight end Shannon Sharpe, running back Floyd Little and offensive lineman Gary Zimmerman.
On Friday, Hall of Fame president/CEO David Baker announced the Class of 2020 could include up to 20 members to honor the NFL’s 100th anniversary. The class will be split into modern-era (five), senior category (10), contributors (three) and coaches (two).
The first-year eligible class is led by safety Troy Polamalu and receiver Reggie Wayne, which could create an opening for former Broncos safety Steve Atwater …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – Sports