ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - The Denver Broncos have announced that owner Pat Bowlen has died following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's Disease.
Bowlen, 75, passed away at his Denver-area home late Thursday night. KUSA-TV reports that his family was by his side at the time.
"His soul will live on through the Broncos, the city of Denver and all of our fans,'' the Bowlen family said in a statement. "Our family wishes to express its sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support we have received in recent years. Heaven got a little bit more orange and blue tonight."
Bowlen was introduced as majority owner of the team in 1984. Under his leadership the Broncos appeared in seven Super Bowls, winning three titles. He guided the team with a simple phrase: "I want to be No. 1 in everything." He will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this year.
"Nobody is going to care whether the team is worth a billion dollars or whatever," Bowlen once said. "That doesn't matter. It's more about how successful you were as an organization and as a team on the field and in the community."
He is survived by his wife Annabel and seven children. At this time funeral arrangements are pending.
STATEMENT FROM DENVER BRONCOS PRESIDENT & CEO JOE ELLIS:
"This is a very sad day for our organization, our community and the National Football League. Pat Bowlen was the heart and soul of the Denver Broncos. Not only was Pat a Hall of Fame owner—He was a Hall of Fame person. His competitiveness, kindness and humility are the qualities that I will always remember. Even during his battle with Alzheimer's, you could still see that same strength and dignity in Pat that he brought to the office every single day for more than 30 years.
"Pat was the driving force in establishing the championship culture of the Broncos. He was also an extraordinary leader at the league level during a key period of growth. It wasn't all about what Pat did as an owner, but it was the way he did it. The relationships he enjoyed with his players were real and sincere. Pat truly cared about the players in a very genuine way and always wanted them to get the credit. He preferred to be in the background and put every resource toward winning Super Bowls. With the fans, Pat felt in many ways that his team belonged to them and approached things with that in mind. There will never be another owner like Pat Bowlen. My heart goes out to his wife, Annabel, all of his children and all of our fans."