After Pat Bowlen told the Denver Post in 2009 that he was experiencing bouts of short-term memory loss, rumors started flying that the owner of the Denver Broncos had Alzheimer’s. That speculation was confirmed today in the Post, which cited a statement from the team acknowledging the 70-year-old Bowlen’s battle with the incurable disease. Team president Joe Ellis will now have full authority over the Broncos as Bowlen steps aside to concentrate on his health; Bowlen’s ownership will be placed in the Pat Bowlen Trust, which is overseen by non-family trustees.
Bowlen’s wife, Annabel, says in the statement that her husband “bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer’s disease for the last few years” and that he stayed mum on his condition “because he has strongly believed, and often said, ‘It’s not about me.’” As for Ellis, he says, “It's a really, really sad day. It's sad for his family, his wife, and his seven children. It's sad for everyone in the organization. And it's sad for all the Bronco fans who know what Pat Bowlen meant to them as an owner. It's a day nobody wanted to see happen." The Post says there are no plans for a Broncos sale: His wife explains that Bowlen has long had plans in place to ensure the “continuation of his values with the hope of keeping the Broncos in the Bowlen family.” (Read more Pat Bowlen stories.)