MINNEAPOLIS — The Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group was officially welcomed to the ranks of the NFL's owners on Tuesday, and their new partners appear ready to welcome them with open arms.
Cowboys owner/president/GM Jerry Jones, Rams owner/chairman Stan Kroenke and Colts owner/CEO Jim Irsay were among those to offer their congratulations to Rob Walton and the rest of the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group.
"Outstanding," Jones said of adding the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group. "I've had the privilege of knowing [Rob Walton's] dad [Sam Walton]. I look at what at least one example of getting a little strain of it [in] Stan Kroenke in the room with us does. That's done nothing but lift the NFL. Just by their presence, they'll be a great addition. They'll do well. They know how to operate."
Kroenke is married to Rob Walton's cousin Ann, which ties Kroenke and Walton together. Walton's daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and son-in-law Greg Penner were also introduced Tuesday as new owners of the Broncos.
"You want great partners in these leagues and, as I said earlier, I've known Rob and Carrie for over five decades," Kroenke said. "I'm not exactly sure how long I've known Greg, but it's been between three and four decades for sure. They'll do a wonderful job and having people you know you can count on, that are forward-looking, that are progressive and want to invest in the facilities and communities they're in, that's a big deal."
In their words to the other NFL owners, the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group expressed their own excitement about leading a franchise.
"I think they reinforced the importance of the Denver Broncos to that community, the importance to the NFL and the fact they are enthusiastic about joining this group as well as owning the Broncos and being a part of the Denver community," Commissioner Roger Goodell said of their message to the other owners. "I think they're going to be extraordinary owners and ownership that I think [former Broncos owner] Pat Bowlen would be proud of."
Jones, Kroenke and Irsay all also recognized the impact Bowlen had on the league, and Irsay noted that Bowlen would have been pleased with the Walton-Penner Ownership Group's inclusion among NFL owners.
"It's emotional because Pat Bowlen was such a good friend and meant so much to the league — [he] has done so much," Irsay said. "I know he'd be pleased and relieved that we have a great family taking over the team. It's a great day for the league. … It's a day that you landmark. Just to think the Carolina Panthers were $2.2 billion just five years ago and now we're getting up there around $5 billion.
"But I told Rob as I've told every owner over the last 50 years, 'You're getting a great deal. You'll never regret it.' That's really been the case, which is remarkable."
The Walton-Penner Group and Kroenke, meanwhile, will have a family reunion of sorts on Christmas Day when the Broncos travel to LA to face the Rams.
"That'll make for a good holiday," Kroenke said. "That'll be fun. I think we'll both look forward to it."