ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Tuesday, the Contributors Subcommittee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection board did not choose Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen for potential induction.
The subcommittee nominated Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue for consideration by the full 48-member selection committee. Jones and Tagliabue will be finalists for the 2017 class, and their candidacies will be further debate when the committee meets to select next year's class on Feb. 4, 2017 in Houston, one day before Super Bowl LI.
This was the third consecutive year in which the Hall of Fame added a contributors category to consider executives and others involved in the sport. The Contributors Subcommittee was to offer two names for the 2015, 2017 and 2019 classes, with one each for 2016 and 2018.
In 2015, the subcommittee nominated former general managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf; both were selected by the larger committee for induction. Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was nominated as the contributor for the 2016 class; he was formally inducted into the Hall on Aug. 6.
Bowlen did not receive the nod this year despite his massive contributions to the league's business operations and the success of the Broncos under his watch. He became the fastest owner to 300 wins, hitting that milestone for regular-season and postseason victories in 2013, and is the league's winningest owner since assuming control of the Broncos in 1984.
The Broncos' seven Super Bowl appearances on Bowlen's watch are tied for the most by one team under a single owner, a mark he shares with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. In Bowlen's 32 seasons, the Broncos have more Super Bowl appearances than losing seasons (five), and has more regular-season wins (313), total wins (334), winning seasons (20) and playoff appearances (32) than any other active owner.
With Bowlen at the helm, the Broncos are also the only team to post at least 90 wins in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. They already have 62 regular-season wins in this decade.
But Bowlen has also enjoyed a massive influence in league matters. He was the chairman of the Broadcast Committee, and helped engineer deals that changed the broadcast and, by extension, the financial landscape of the deal, including the creation of the NFL Network and the 2006 contract with NBC that made Sunday Night Football the league's showcase prime-time game each week.
Bowlen's work on the Labor Committee also helped broker a series of deals that has ensured 28-plus seasons of regular-season play without a work stoppage that resulted in the cancellation of games, the longest active period of labor peace in North American professional sports.
Bowlen's accomplishments are vast, as noted in the following data compiled by Broncos Public Relations:
A look at Owner Pat Bowlen's 34 years with the Broncos.
Pat Bowlen is the first owner in professional football history to achieve 300 overall wins in his first 30 years.
In Pat Bowlen's 32 years as owner of the Broncos, the team has more Super Bowl appearances (7) than losing seasons (5), including three World Championships.
No team in NFL history has appeared in more Super Bowls (7) under a single owner than the Broncos have under Pat Bowlen. He is one of only seven owners in NFL history to preside over a team that has three or more Super Bowl wins. The Broncos' 20 winning seasons and 18 playoff berths since 1984 are the most under a single owner in the NFL during that span. The Broncos have an NFL-low five losing seasons under Bowlen (never in consecutive years).
During Pat Bowlen's ownership, the Broncos have the most regular-season wins (313) in the NFL as well as the highest overall winning percentage (.612, 334-212-1), which ranks third in all of professional sports (trailing only the NBA's San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers).
Pat Bowlen has helped Denver become the only NFL franchise to win at least 90 games in each of the last three decades (the Broncos are well on pace to win 90 games in the 2010s, needing only to finish out the decade with a 28-36 or better record to achieve that mark).
Under Pat Bowlen, the Broncos were the only AFC team to appear in three Super Bowls in the 1980s. They were also the only team from the conference to win a Super Bowl in the 1990s, capturing back-to-back World Championships in 1997-98 while setting an NFL record for most overall wins (33-6, .846) in a two-year period.
Bowlen served on nine National Football League committees during his ownership of the Broncos:
•NFL Management Council Executive Committee (co-chair)
•NFL Broadcasting Committee (chairman)
•NFL Compensation Committee
•NFL Network Committee
•Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee
•NFL Business Ventures Committee
•NFL Finance Committee
•Los Angeles Working Group Committee
•NFL Workplace Diversity Committee
In his role as Chair of the NFL Broadcast Committee, Bowlen led the negotiations of the NFL's $18 billion TV contract in 1998, the most lucrative single-sport contract in history.
In 1993, Bowlen gave an ultimatum to the networks that procured a bidding war, bringing FOX (NFC) and NBC (AFC) on as league broadcast partners and nearly doubling the television revenue from those streams.
Bowlen also was a key influencer in the 2006 launch of NBC's Sunday Night Football, which has become the most-watched TV program in the country.
Former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol (9/7/14): "As chairman of the TV committee, Pat Bowlen had more to do with how we watch football in America right now than anybody else in the league. He was the single major force in getting Sunday Night Football. It never would have happened without him."
In 1993, Bowlen fought to establish the introduction of the "franchise tag" in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, helping teams secure the rights to their key players.
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (1/28/14): "The franchise player tag, it was Pat who said, 'Call it the Elway Rule, call it whatever you want, but we're not letting our best player go out on the market.' It doesn't make sense from the fans' standpoint. That's what builds fan bases is continuity with the great players. That's what we as the league called the franchise tag in the beginning, the Elway Rule."
In his position as co-chair of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee, Bowlen played a key role in the six-year extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2006 and again was part of the new CBA discussions for the 10-year extension in 2011 that ensured labor peace for the next decade.
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (1/28/14): "When we had tough issues, I'd tell (players union boss) Gene Upshaw, 'Go talk to Pat Bowlen.' And he'd say, 'Why Bowlen?' And I'd say: 'Because he's realistic. If he says it, you can take it to the bank that it's something we as a league are willing to stand by.'"
Bowlen played an important role in the formation of NFL Network in 2003 and worked to increase its distribution among cable providers and its overall growth.
The Broncos have played eight international games in six different countries under Bowlen's ownership (7 American Bowl preseason games, 1 regular-season game in London), marking the third-most such games in league history.
Former Broncos GM John Beake (8/3/14): "I remember when they first started the American Bowl, Pat would raise his hand. We went to (seven). He loved that. He loved taking the team over and expanding the game globally."
STADIUM EXPANSION / FAN EXPERIENCE**
Pat Bowlen opened Sports Authority Field at Mile High in 2001, beginning a three-year period in which eight new stadiums opened around the NFL.
With a continued emphasis of improving the fan experience, he commissioned $30 million worth of upgrades to Sports Authority Field at Mile High during the 2013 offseason that included increasing the size of the scoreboard by three times and improving the audio/visual elements, connectivity, suites and concourses.
FRANCHISE STABILITY / POPULARITY
During Bowlen's 32 years of ownership, the Broncos have sold out every regular-season and postseason contest (NFL-high 276 sellouts) as part of the club's 46-year, 379-game sellout streak that is the longest in NFL history in one city.
Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft (7/23/14): "Over the 30 years he's built an environment up there that I think everyone in the NFL would like to copy."
Bowlen's 32 years of ownership are the 13th-most in pro football history among single owners. He is the second-longest tenured owner in the NFL at this time.
Pat Bowlen helped put the Rocky Mountain Region on the professional sports map with the sustained success of the Broncos. In addition to the team's local popularity, a 2014 Harris Poll identified the Broncos as "America's Team."