Brittany Bowlen, The Chosen One, will return to the Broncos in a few days to advance her ascent to eventual principal owner of the NFL franchise.
The obvious objective of Pat Bowlen’s fifth child (and third daughter) will be to help return the Broncos to championship-level glory.
The Broncos, playing the Bills Sunday, are struggling mightily.
However, a vast majority of currently ruling family members of late NFL owners have found it very difficult to reach the ultimate title.
After Brittany’s wedding Sept. 14 to attorney Alex Kim, a honeymoon in the South Pacific and her resignation from McKinsey & Company — a global business management consulting firm — the fifth child (and third daughter) of Pat Bowlen will rejoin the Broncos’ front-office staff, probably by Dec. 1.
Brittany, who turns 30 in January, will serve in a position that has not been specified publicly, but the intention of the three Bowlen trustees is that the younger Bowlen will be trained in various franchise facets including marketing and partnerships, financial affairs, business administration and, yes, football operations. At a future juncture in her preparation, Brittany will start attending NFL owners meetings.
The former nationally competitive collegiate ice skater and recreational skier/surfer was born the same month the Broncos lost Super Bowl XXIV, but she is old enough to have experienced the Broncos’ three Super Bowl victories.
Brittany has completed many of Pat Bowlen’s required criteria to become his successor, but the critical phase is ahead during, likely, a five-year period.
Yet she and Bowlen trustees Joe Ellis (Broncos CEO), Rich Slivka (the team’s general counsel) and Mary Kelley (Denver family law attorney) must continue to confront a lawsuit filed in September by Amie Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace, who claim Pat was not in full command mentally when he established the family trust.
This isn’t the first family feud over ownership in the NFL, but the soap-opera drama isn’t what Pat Bowlen, who died June 13 after suffering for almost a decade with Alzheimer’s, envisioned — a legal clash involving two brothers, John (a minority owner) and Bill Bowlen (an ex-shareholding partner) and sister Marybeth (who sold her interest in the Broncos decades ago) and the two daughters of first wife Sally Parker on one side, the five children of second wife Annabel Bowlen on the opposite side.
Of the 32 NFL franchises, 17 are owned, co-owned and/or directed by sons, daughters and widows. The three other AFC West teams have the Chiefs’ Clark Hunt in charge as was agreed upon by his siblings after the death of AFL founder Lamar Hunt; Dean Spanos took over as Chargers’ CEO from his late father Alex, who had acknowledged he suffered from dementia; and, after Al Davis died in 2011, wife Carol and son Mark inherited his franchise’s control, with Mark assuming his father’s title as managing general partner.
Other franchises that have been passed down to relatives include: Cardinals, Bears, Bengals, Lions, Texans, Colts, Saints, Giants, Jets, Steelers, 49ers, Buccaneers and the Titans.
The Seahawks are held in trust by Jody Allen, the sister of team owner Paul Allen, who died last year.
Then there’s the Broncos, who are supervised, with NFL approval, by the three trustees.
Only Pittsburgh, Chicago, Indianapolis and the New York Giants have won Super Bowls with current owners related to former owners.
The Steelers’ Rooney family (three generations) have a proud championship history; the Bears, under George Halas’ daughter Virginia Halas McCaskey, own a Super Bowl trophy; the Colts’ Jim Irsay, son of Robert, was the owner for Super Bowl XLI; and the Giants’ Maras have won two titles.
Several others have reached the playoffs often, but the championship game rarely.
The odds aren’t good for The Inheritors.
Brittany Bowlen has a degree in finance from Notre Dame and a masters and business administration degree from Duke.
She interned for NBC at an Olympics, worked in the rotational internship program at the NFL headquarters for two years and spent a year with the Broncos before leaving to pursue her MBA.
She interned for McKinsey before being hired as a full-time employee in the company’s Denver office.
Beth Bowlen Wallace, who also spent three years with the Broncos as director of special projects (before being dismissed), received a business degree from Colorado and a law degree from the University of Denver. Wallace, who will be 48 in 2020, owned a hospitality business years ago in Honolulu and is a partner with husband John Wallace in an oil and gas company.
Beth and Brittany have been forceful in expressing their aim to become the ownership guardian of the franchise. The trustees have rejected Beth, chosen Brittany.
Two decades ago Pat Bowlen told me that young Brittany was the only family member who expressed interest in future ownership. Three months ago Brittany told me she had “a unique relationship” with her father. Beth told me stories of her “great, loving relationship” with her father.
But the matter of Beth vs. Brittany may be settled in court.
In the meantime, Beth is on the outside looking in, and Brittany will be back on the inside looking forward.