USA TODAY Sports Weekly

BRON­COS: ‘THIS ONE’S FOR PAT’

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A Su­per Bowl cham­pi­onship is so close now that the men who run Pat Bowlen’s team are start­ing to al­low them­selves to imag­ine what the cer­e­mony might be like.

John El­way, the team’s Hall of Fame quar­ter­back turned gen­eral man­ager, would lift the Lom­bardi Tro­phy over his head and shout four words into the mi­cro­phone: “This one’s for Pat.”

It would be a per­fect way for El­way to thank owner Pat Bowlen and a fit­ting trib­ute to Bowlen’s fa­mous “This one’s for John” speech af­ter the El­way-led Bron­cos won their first Su­per Bowl 18 years ago.

“If the team is for­tu­nate enough to win, some­one will say, ‘This one’s for Pat.’ But Pat wouldn’t want it that way,” Bron­cos chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Joe El­lis said. “He would never make it about him­self. He was too hum­ble for that. And he would cer­tainly im­pose on his play­ers the un­der­stand­ing that it’s re­ally all about them.”

Su­per Bowl 50 will be the Bron­cos’ sev­enth ap­pear­ance in the game since Bowlen bought the team in 1983, but the first he will be un­able to at­tend. Deep in the throes of Alzheimer’s dis­ease, he has been un­able to at­tend any of the Bron­cos’ games this sea­son.

He placed his own­er­ship into the Pat Bowlen Trust in July 2014, part of a decade-long plan to as­sure the team will stay within his fam­ily. The goal is to even­tu­ally have one of Bowlen’s seven chil­dren take over as owner and CEO.

“It’s a shame that he can’t be there like he was, be­cause he would en­joy this,” El­lis said. “He would re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate how this team has con­ducted it­self this year, with all th­ese gritty wins and with this re­lent­less ef­fort each week.”

El­lis thinks Bowlen would be es­pe­cially proud of coach Gary Ku­biak, who was a rookie backup quar­ter­back for the Bron­cos in 1983 when Bowlen bought the team.

Bowlen hasn’t been around the Paul D. Bowlen Me­mo­rial Cen­tre, the team train­ing fa­cil­ity he named af­ter his father, since the 2013 sea­son.

“I wish he was around here with us, but I know it means a lot to the fam­ily ... just very proud to be a part of it. But very proud of him, the job he’s done here with this fran­chise,” Ku­biak said.

The rest of the fam­ily, in­clud­ing Bowlen’s wife Annabel and his seven chil­dren along with spouses and sev­eral grand­chil­dren, will at­tend the Su­per Bowl. So too will more than 300 Bron­cos em­ploy­ees, whose trip to Cal­i­for­nia was paid for by the Bowlen Fam­ily Trust. Bowlen paid for all of his em­ploy­ees to at­tend each of the team’s pre­vi­ous six Su­per Bowls.

Lind­say H. Jones

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