There’s not a lot I can tell you about Pat Bowlen that you don’t already know or haven’t already read this morning. The outpouring of appreciation for the late, great owner of the Denver Broncos is palpable in Broncos Country – a term, by the way, that wouldn’t exist without ‘Mr. B’.
I can tell you I didn’t know the man and to offer any sort of testimonial of him almost feels insincere. Simply put, there are others who are more qualified; others who had a deeper, more personal relationship with him. This morning, read and listen to them.
I can also tell you that — despite the business I’m in — I’m largely disinterested in the business side of sports. At the same time, I can tell you that without the business savvy of Pat Bowlen, a man who — and it’s not an overstatement — made the NFL what it is today, that my business, Mile High Sports, would likely not exist. If the Broncos weren’t as big, if the NFL wasn’t as big, who knows what I’d be doing this morning? Certainly not writing this column.
So, to say I’m grateful for Mr. B — grateful to have had a team worth rooting for all these years; grateful to have been born and raised in a city he helped to put on the map; grateful for the way in which I earn a living –- is a massive understatement.
Still, I’m not qualified to write his eulogy.
But I can honestly and appropriately share what Mr. B gave to me – above and beyond all of that.
If I compose a quick, off the cuff, top-of-mind ‘best moments of my life’ list, I think it’s fair to say that the Broncos occupy a good handful of them. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments far more important than winning or losing a football game, but in terms of sheer joy, unadulterated fun, and time spent with friends, the Broncos have been a central theme.
I can recall listening to The Drive on KOA instead of watching it because my grandparents lived outside of a tiny, tiny town on the Eastern Plains and the antenna didn’t get NBC. To date, I’ve never been as enthralled in a radio broadcast. Thank you, Mr. B.
I vividly remember being in a living room in Thornton, Colorado immediately after John Elway’s famous “Helicopter Run” and watching the room explode with fist pumps and high fives. The 20-or-so people magically transformed from “possibly” to “probably.” Thank you, Mr. B.
I’ve been all over the country for “work” (which was anything but) because of the Broncos. Thank you, Mr. B.
There is an entire lexicon of words and phrases shared amongst a tight knit group of friends that will mean nothing to you, but when said to them, without any context whatsoever, those words can bring any of us back to an exact, and innocent, moment in time when we were all just kids.
The Chicken Stick Game. Down Darcy. For Over a Decade. Pat’s Hot Chocolate. How ‘bout some popcorn? Primetime. Stick it, Alec Baldwin. The Grim Reaper. Be a Horse.
Mr. B didn’t know me. He couldn’t tell you what any of those words meant, either.
But if I really ponder who should get a lot of credit for so many of those great memories, it has got to be Pat Bowlen.
I didn’t know the man. I only know what he gave to me.
So, Mr. B, thanks for the memories.