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Sacco Sez: Pat Bowlen belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Posted Aug 13, 2017

There is an old journalistic adage that when a story is huge, too big to write, make it small and reduce it to personal meaning. That is the best way to sum up Pat Bowlen's impact, Jim Saccomano writes.

One can hardly list all the reasons why I and the rest of Broncos Country are very hopeful that Pat Bowlen should be chosen as a Pro Football Hall of Fame member in the contributor category.

In his 34 years of ownership, the Broncos have more Super Bowl appearances (seven) than losing seasons (five). His teams have won three world championships, becoming one of just nine franchises to win three or more Super Bowls. Under Mr. B, the Broncos have made nine AFC championship games while capturing 13 AFC West division titles and 18 playoff berths.

He is the first owner in history to have 300 wins in his first 30 years of ownership, and while one cannot guarantee that will never be topped, we can be certain that it will take three decades to do so, starting at any given time. The Broncos have also sold out every single home game during his ownership — an NFL-high 284 sellouts as part of the franchise’s historic 47-year sellout streak.

On the league side, his impact has been equally impressive. He’s served on nine different NFL committees during his ownership while helping the league grow exponentially in the areas of television revenue, labor peace, stadium construction and international expansion.

As former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue once said: “Pat might have been the only owner who had a major role in every one of those four areas. I worked with over 100 owners [and] I would put Pat in the top five.”

He had a prominent role in negotiating the league’s television deals while chairman of the NFL Broadcast Committee. Former NBC Executive Dick Ebersol has called him the “father of Sunday Night Football.”

There is an old journalistic adage that when a story is huge, too big to write, make it small and reduce it to personal meaning.

For me, I think of moments spent alone with him when Mr. B talked about his goals and himself, without ever meaning to.

One early evening in the offseason I was sitting in his office taking a break from putting the finishing touches on the media guide.

I mentioned to him that I was finishing up his biography for the guide, and I wondered if he wanted anything special included that I had missed.

Naturally, he said no and downplayed those words on paper, but noted casually that, "I want us to be number one in everything."

Just like that, in fewer than ten words, he expressed all of the goals he had for his football team.

Naturally, I used that quote at the forefront of his bio and later made sure those words were included by his statue at Ring of Fame Plaza.

I remember when a prominent member of Denver's civic community passed away and I was asked if I could speak to him about contributing to the funeral costs. He told me, "Nobody but the Broncos are paying for this. We will pay all of it."

I cannot mention the name of the individual involved because Pat swore me to secrecy, not the only time he ever did that when making a significant contribution to a cause. A lot of time has passed, but I still honor my pledge.

He often said, "You should give because it is the right thing to do. Give, and shut up about it. Do not blow your own horn, or tell other people so they can pat you on the back. Give, and shut up."

Sometimes his generosity has been made public immediately, but there have been many instances when he has been able to do so anonymously.

How he has been for the entirety of his ownership has not changed since day one.

When he made his first appearance at Broncos headquarters as the owner, he had his introductory press conference scheduled. It was I who picked him up -- this would never happen today, I would submit, but it happened then -- just the PR man picking up the new owner.

I was naturally really nervous, meeting my new boss for the first time, and I vividly remember mentioning that I had worked up some talking points for him.

He asked, "What are talking points?"

I said, "I have some notes that you can go over concerning the questions that the press might ask, so you can consider how you might wish to respond."

Mr. B said, "I'm not too worried about that. They can ask me any questions and I'll try to answer them all. That's it."

And that was it. No questions off limit, no canned answers.

I thought to myself, "This might be really, really good."

And Mr. B, we are now into the fourth decade of your ownership being well beyond really, really good.

All of Broncos Country is pulling hard for a Hall of Fame selection for our great owner.