(Reuters) – Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos for more than three decades, has died after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, his family and the football team said on Friday.
Bowlen, 75, died peacefully at home in Denver on Thursday night, surrounded by relatives, his family said in a statement.
He bought the Broncos in 1984 and served as its chief executive officer and helped guide the team to seven Super Bowl games in 30 years at the helm, winning three of them.
“We are saddened to inform everyone that our beloved husband and father, Pat Bowlen, passed on to the next chapter of his life late Thursday night peacefully, surrounded by family. His soul will live on through the Broncos, the city of Denver and all our fans” the family statement said.
The family added that “Heaven got a little more orange and blue tonight,” in a nod to the team’s colors.
Bowlen was affectionately called “Mr. B”.
His philosophy was that “no one cares if the team is worth a billion dollars or whatever,” he once said. “That doesn’t matter. It’s more about how successful you are as an organization and as a team on the field.”
He stepped down from the team’s day-to-day operations in 2014 because of his illness.
His team said at the time, “We continue to offer our full support, compassion and respect to ‘Mr. B,’ who has faced Alzheimer’s disease with such dignity and strength.”
The team’s president, Joe Ellis, took over the day-to-day management of the team when Bowlen stepped down.
Bowlen has already been a 2019 Prop Football Hall of Fame selection. The award will be give posthumously in August.
He is survived by his wife Annabel and seven children.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Frances Kerry)