As the process of cleaning house was kick-started by Denver Broncos GM George Paton, most fans have been fixated on the team's search for the all-important new head coach. An ownership vacuum and two recent courtroom resolutions have piled on top of Denver's head-coaching search, and the potential offseason courtship of a superstar quarterback like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.
But as 9NEWS' Mike Klis first reported, exactly who ends up becoming the next owner of the Broncos will seemingly boil down to one thing… money.
"In talking with a legal expert familiar with the Broncos ownership transition, if the team is sold, it would likely be an AUCTION scenario. In this case, trustees would have fiduciary responsibility to beneficiaries to go with the highest bidder, pending NFL approval," Klis tweeted on Monday.
If the team is put up for sale, it would be within the framework of an auction scenario, meaning the trustees would be obliged to go with the highest offer, all of which would still have to meet with NFL approval from on high. It seems pretty clear, however, that the simple criteria of scooping up the storied franchise will come down to the depth of the bidder’s pockets.
What should concern Broncos fans is that there will be no in-depth analysis into whether or not a prospective buyer is more deeply invested in the team and the wider community. Beyond making a lucrative financial investment, in part, the sheer length of time it has taken the courts and the Pat Bowlen family to sort things out has taken the Broncos to a point where the hammer can fall on a sale regardless of family equity.
Speaking of bidders, one of a reported six potential ownership groups includes president of football operations John Elway, whose consortium will vie with another that includes Hall-of-Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. On Monday, Elway confirmed to Klis his desire to remain involved with the Broncos after 40 years.
“Who knows where that is and where that falls, but I do have interest in being a part of it,’’ Elway told 9NEWS. “The Broncos have been in my life for 40 years, so I’d love to be a part of it. So it’s a matter of seeing how everything plays out and what’s going to happen. I’m sure there will be a lot of things going on, but I would definitely like to be involved.”
Elway quantified what his role might look like if his ownership group ultimately wins the Broncos auction.
“I’m not looking to be the face of the franchise,’’ Elway said. “Whoever puts up that kind of money and whoever is that owner, it’s their franchise. It’s their team. My hope would be to help support the new owner. ‘Hey, I’m here with you. I’m here to support you. I’m here to help you in the community. I’m here to help you with the understanding of football, how everything works' and be around and be an advisor and someone who can help if they have questions because George is going to run football but he’s not going to have a lot of time. So if I can be that guy that helps the new owner understand Denver as well as on the football side. I think I can help do both for them. I don’t want to be the face.’’
Sections of Broncos Country hoping for some kind of tight-knit family ownership situation, or even an Elway or Manning ticket, might now have to face up to the reality that if a billionaire feels like buying a brand new NFL toy, it could be done with impunity. And maybe, as a bone thrown to the fan base, a name like Elway or Manning will be asserted as the mouthpiece or even, perhaps, the day-to-day executive operations guy.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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