Many Denver Broncos fans have pined for Peyton Manning to return to the team in some sort of management role, especially as the team has struggled in the five seasons since his retirement. With momentum building on the potential sale of the Broncos, a new report from CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora Sunday morning has Manning approaching at least two new potential ownership suitors about a big role with the club.
Manning is well aware of the situation, given his tenure with the team and his roots in Denver, sources said, and has had contact with potential ownership groups to glean how he might be able to have a role both as a potential minority investor as well as perhaps with the management of the team as well.
If true, the Broncos could be poised to move on from the John Elway front-office era to the Manning ticket as soon as 2022. As president of football operations, Elway's executive contract with the Broncos expires next spring and after relinquishing his general manager role at the end of last season, the feeling is that Manning's former boss will ride off into the sunset.
Whether as a minority owner or executive/manager, Manning could ostensibly step in next spring with a smooth front-office transition where Elway could pass the torch to the only other quarterback besides him to win a Super Bowl in Denver.
However, the caveat would be an actual sale of the Broncos. After the lawsuit brought by late owner Pat Bowlen's two oldest daughters against the Bowlen Trust — headed by team CEO Joe Ellis —was dismissed this summer, the pendulum swung from Brittany Bowlen being expected to be christened the Broncos' new controlling owner to an outside sale being the likely resolution.
Although Ellis and the Bowlen Trust have long pushed for Brittany to take over as owner, such a resolution would require all of Pat's surviving children to be on the same page with that unanimously. Considering the Game-of-Thrones-like drama the Bowlen kids have kicked up since his passing, getting everyone on the same page seems next to impossible.
Forbes recently estimated the Broncos' value at $3.75 billion, making them the 10th most valuable franchise in the NFL. Manning is wealthy but he's not rich enough to scratch together $3.75B which is why he's interested in a minority ownership stake.
Who could be the next owner of the Broncos? Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos reportedly wants in on NFL ownership and rumors have abounded that rapper Jay-Z might throw his hat in the ring.
For now, Manning is still riding high off the triumph of his Hall-of-Fame enshrinement this summer and will continue to co-host his Monday Night Football Mega-Cast on ESPN2 alongside his brother Eli. Meanwhile, new Broncos GM George Paton — who signed a six-year deal this past January, making him nearly new-owner-proof — has the Broncos looking like a significantly improved team under third-year head coach Vic Fangio.
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