ELLIS: BOWLEN WOULD MISS BLACK HOLE
phoenix» It has been nearly three years since Pat Bowlen stepped down from his daily duties as owner of the Broncos. His absence from league functions and Broncos celebrations still seems odd for many who became accustomed to seeing the team’s longtime owner at team functions. But Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis said Bowlen is “doing just fine at home resting comfortably” and “would be excited about where the league stands.”
“He’d be disappointed that he couldn’t go to the ‘Black Hole’ anymore,” Ellis added, referring to the Raiders’ approved move to Las Vegas. “He liked walking across the south end zone there and getting harassed. That was one of the more enjoyable moments each season. I think he’d be proud of the work he did and be amazed really at how far this league has come, how popular the sport is, his team is and the National Football League is. It’s just a shame that he can’t be here today to enjoy all of it.”
Among the most pressing is securing a new stadium naming-rights partner in the wake of Sports Authority’s bankruptcy. The Broncos, who bought the last five years of Sports Authority’s naming-rights contract, teamed with WME | IMG to find a new partner and continue to sift through their options. Ellis has said in the past that he hoped to have a new partner in place by the start of the season. While he’s still optimistic of doing so, he said “no promises, because you have to get the right deal.”
Also high on Ellis’ to-do list is reaching a new contract with general manager John Elway, who is entering the final year of his deal. In January, Elway said the Broncos had early talks with Elway’s representatives about a new deal and they were optimistic of reaching an accord soon — even before the start of the new season.
“I’m very hopeful we can get this thing resolved sooner rather than later,” Ellis said. “I’d like to get it done before that, yeah. I’d like John to stick around. I think I’m in the majority.”
If Justin Simmons had a vote, it would be a hard no. The Broncos safety who made famous the leaper play that blocked an extrapoint attempt and led to the game-winning score against New Orleans, is, unsurprisingly, against the league’s proposal to ban it.
“It seems a little out of hand,” Simmons told The Denver Post by phone Monday. “I just don’t understand why it’s a play that they want to eliminate. It’s not like that play has any higher of a risk of someone getting hurt than actually playing the game of football in and of itself. I don’t understand. The league has their rules and is trying to keep the players safe, but personally it doesn’t make any sense.”
The Broncos’ offseason program will begin April 10, a week later than the team could have started this year because they have a new head coach in Vance Joseph. Per league rules, teams with new coaches can start as early as April 3.
“April 10 gave us the opportunity to go straight through,” Joseph said. “April 3 would have had one week off in the middle somewhere. Players don’t want that. They want to work through, have a great offseason, get their vacation and come back.”