Learn more about the Bowlen Family Trust.
The Broncos ownership transition is among the most unusual in recent NFL history for one reason: None of Pat Bowlen‘s seven children have made careers in the NFL. While several have held positions or interned with the organization, the clan has remained disconnected from the day-to-day operation of the franchise valued at more than $2 billion. This has prompted Bowlen to designate a three-person trust tasked with determining the future of the team in the event of his death or illness.
The trust went on the clock in 2014 when Pat Bowlen stepped away from the club, revealing he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The group—consisting of team president Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Slivka and Denver attorney Mary Kelly—last year received a five-year extension from the NFL to perform their mandate: either determine that a member of the Bowlen family has earned the right to run the team, or sell the club if no viable candidate emerges. In the meantime, longtime club president and CEO Joe Ellis has represented the Broncos at NFL owners meetings and has assumed all hiring and firing power within the organization.
Meanwhile, the ownership limbo has sparked a family feud, with Beth Bowlen Wallace, Pat’s 47-year-old daughter, declaring her dissatisfaction with current management and a desire to own the team in statements this summer. While Bowlen Wallace has the support of Pat’s two brothers, she was promptly rebuked by the trust as under-qualified. It’s believed that 28-year-old Brittany Bowlen is the favorite to win approval of the trust instead. After graduating from Duke with an MBA this summer, Brittany has been working for renowned global management firm McKinsey & Company, and prior to that was a member of the NFL’s apprenticeship program in New York. She is expected to join the Broncos as an employee at some point early in the five-year window.