SAN DIEGO -- For three decades, Broncos Owner and CEO Pat Bowlen has built a championship culture in Denver.
On Sunday afternoon, he became the first owner to reach 300 wins in 30 years.
The Broncos' victory against the San Diego Chargers was Bowlen's 300th since purchasing the team in 1984. In that span, he has brought two world championships to the city and made just as big an impact off the football field as on it.
"What he’s done in the 30 years he’s owned this franchise is unbelievable," Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little said last month at the unveiling of Ring of Fame Plaza.
The focus Sunday was on what Mr. Bowlen has helped his team accomplish between the lines.
The victory meant Bowlen made it to 300 wins in fewer years than any owner in professional football history.
Bowlen is one of 13 owners in professional football history with a tenure of at least 30 years. Among them, his 60-percent career winning percentage ranks second only to Giants founder Tim Mara.
In his 30 seasons as an owner, the team has won 10 division titles. The franchise has seen regular-season win totals of 14, 13 (four times), 12 (twice), 11 (four times) and 10 (three times). Fourteen of the 15 best seasons in team history have come during Mr. Bowlen’s ownership.
In the last 30 years, the team ranks second in regular-season wins and Super Bowl appearances in addition to finishing with the fewest losing seasons among non-expansion teams during that span.
"Pat was a guy that really turned everything around and made winning the tradition with the Broncos," Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said at an offseason banquet honoring Bowlen for his philanthropic leadership throughout the state of Colorado.
As Bowlen explained it, when former Broncos Owner Edgar Kaiser decided he wanted to sell the team in 1984, he was “first in line.”
He was introduced as the majority owner of the Denver Broncos on March 23, 1984, and he and the Bowlen family acquired 100 percent ownership of the Broncos in July 1985.
"When I look back, I can honestly say that the fans really bought into that team,” Bowlen said this offseason. “It wasn't me. They bought into that team."
That relationship between the fans and the franchise has never been lost on Bowlen.
He said that the Broncos franchise is “not just the players and it's not just Pat Bowlen, it's the people who live here in town."
The connection on the fans’ side seems to stem from the fact that Bowlen’s main focus every single year is on hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of it.
“He puts all his attention to doing the right thing by the fans, this community and putting the best football team he can on the field each year,” Broncos President Joe Ellis said in May. “I think the fans appreciate the effort that he puts forth to put the best possible team he can out there and try to win the Super Bowl.”
Past the midway point of the 2013 season, the expectations remain high for the Broncos, which is how Bowlen likes it.
“He wants to win. That’s what’s in his heart. That’s what’s on his mind: I want to win,” Ring of Fame linebacker Tom Jackson said in May. “I think that everybody who’s known him would almost do anything to contribute to that.”