The Denver Broncos Walton-Penner Family Ownership group didn’t experience the start of training camp last season but will have that first-time experience this upcoming season.

2022 was one of the toughest transition years the organization had experienced in quite some time. The Walton-Penner Family Ownership group wasn’t in place when camp started last year, but they went to work immediately upon the NFL approving the sale and transition.

The ownership group did not expect things to go as they did last season, where the Broncos finished last in the AFC West with a 5-12 record. One major turning point in the eyes of the fanbase was the ownership group’s decision to move on from first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett with just two games remaining in the regular season.

To many fans, their decision helped solidify that they care immensely about the fan experience, including the on-field product. Broncos CEO Greg Penner outlined how last year’s experience will help him and the administrative brass as they proceed toward this season.

“One expectation is that year two will be a little smoother than the first year,” Penner said while meeting with local media on Wednesday. “It was a great year—we learned a lot. Of course, there are always going to be some surprises. Our expectations for this year are to set really high expectations, work hard every day to get better and put a good product on the field, something that our fans can be proud of.”

The fan experience is important for Broncos’ ownership. Penner believes the investments and work they put into the team, the facility, and the stadium represents honoring past traditions — which has everything to do with winning football returning to Denver.

“It has to start with our fans,” Penner acknowledged. “We knew [that] coming in with such a rich tradition here, but given the season that we had, our fans’ support, interest and passion was a good surprise. I talked about a year ago about setting a culture, and for us that starts with people—setting high expectations, giving them resources and then holding them accountable. I’ve been doing that a long time at Walmart. The big learning is how do you translate that—those principles—into this environment and this setting? There are a lot of differences and a lot of that just comes from experience. We’ve gotten a lot of that in the first year.”

Broncos CEO Greg Penner has gotten further engrained in the football aspect of owning a professional franchise and praised new head coach Sean Payton for the tangible work he’s done in the short time he’s been in Denver. Penner values Payton’s experience and knowledge from his previous stint as a head coach in the NFL and trusts him with turning the Broncos around.

“I think [Head Coach] Sean [Payton] has been tremendous,” Penner said. “He came in and right away changed the tone in the building. He sets very high expectations. Everybody knows that they are going to be held accountable. At the same time, he’s a great teacher. [He’s] always wanting to teach. He’s a great communicator and then the big thing was the staff that he put together. Coming in and building a really diverse staff—and I mean diversity in terms of coaching trees that they came from, age and experience. We’ve got everybody from [Assistant Head Coach] Mike Westhoff to [Assistant Special Teams Coach] Chris Banjo and [Quarterbacks Coach] Davis Webb that are just out of the league. So really a tremendous staff that I think he’s put together.”

After revealing their new alternate helmet for this upcoming season, Penner shared deeper insight into how his philosophy and perception came into play, tying in the old-school logo and the tradition of the team while focusing on moving forward.

“I can tell you my view is that legacy and history are incredibly important, and we want to honor that,” Penner stated. “At the same time, one of my pet peeves—I remember my first meeting at Walmart when I took over as chairman and I was explaining some of my pet peeves. One was please don’t ever say the words, ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it’ as a rationale for something. I think we want to honor history and honor our legacy here but be willing to change when it’s necessary.”

These words from Penner strike a very important note in the hearts of fans who live and breathe Denver Broncos football. He possesses a clear intent on doing everything he can to put the Broncos in a position to succeed both on the field and away from it.

The Broncos will be back on the field on Thursday as they progress through their ramp-up period before the first fan-attended practice kicks off on Friday morning. The team’s Back Together Weekend event will kick off on Saturday morning, where the parking lot will open at 8:00 a.m., gates open at 9:00 a.m., and practice begins at 10:00 a.m., where Denver Broncos brass are expected to address the crowd.