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Eddie DeBartolo Jr. nominated for HoF from Contributors subcommittee; could Pat Bowlen be next?

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen will have to wait at least one more year for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the door may be about to open in the near future.

The subcommittee that names contributors to the list of Hall of Fame finalists chose former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. as its nominee for the 2016 class. However, the current protocol of adding contributors to each class has three more years to run, with two contributors offered for selection in 2017 and 2019, and one in 2018.

DeBartolo's nomination is well-deserved for the accomplishments of the 49ers under his watch. They won five Super Bowls and helped raise the bar for how teams operate in terms of football philosophy and organizational culture.

The two contributors selected for the 2015 class were both personnel executives: Ron Wolf and Bill Polian. DeBartolo's nomination should build momentum for other deserving candidates from team ownership.

Although the Broncos have not won as many Super Bowls under Bowlen's watch as the 49ers did under DeBartolo, the accomplishments of the team are legion: two world championships, six Super Bowl appearances in three different decades and more conference championships (six) than losing seasons (five) in 31 years. Bowlen also became the fastest owner to 300 wins.

Yet the team accomplishments only scratch the surface for Bowlen, whose case for entry as a contributor will be helped by his impact on league affairs, particularly the expansion of broadcast contracts throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Bowlen was the chairman of the Broadcast Committee from 2001-06. The NFL Network, which launched in 2003, is a direct result of Bowlen's influence and impact.

Bowlen also served on the Management Council Executive Committee, of which he served as co-chairman from 2007-10.. Through his work with the NFL Players Association, the NFL has not lost a regular-season game to a work stoppage in nearly 28 years, representing the longest period of labor peace in North American major league professional sports.



  • Ranks as the second-longest tenured current owner in the NFL.
  • First owner in professional football history to win 300 games in his first 30 seasons.
  • Appeared in six Super Bowls (2nd most in history) during three different decades, capturing AFC Championships in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1997, 1998 and 2013.
  • One of five owners in history to win back-to-back Super Bowls (1997-98).
  • Broncos have won the second most regular-season games (301) and have experienced the fewest losing seasons (5) during Mr. Bowlen's ownership tenure.
  • Denver is the only NFL team to win 90-plus games in each of the last three decades with Mr. Bowlen as the owner.
  • During Mr. Bowlen's ownership, every Broncos regular season and playoff contest has been sold out as part of the club's 45-year, 369-game sellout streak that is the longest in the NFL.
  • The Broncos owns the NFL's best home record (181-67 / .730) in the NFL during Mr. Bowlen's ownership (1984-pres.).
  • Denver has led the NFL in attendance during Mr. Bowlen's tenure, drawing nearly 20 million fans to their home games from 1984-2014.
  • The Broncos have dominated the AFC West Division under Mr. Bowlen, posting more division titles (12), conference championship game appearances (8) and Super Bowl appearances (6) than any other club in the division.
  • The Broncos have played in an NFL‐high 315 nationally televised games during Mr. Bowlen's ownership, a total that includes a league‐best 176 prime‐time games.
  • Contributed more than $150 million to the construction of Sports Authority Field at Mile High, which opened in 2001, and commissioned $30 million worth of stadium upgrades during the 2013 offseason to improve the fan experience.
  • Mr. Bowlen has served on nine league committees during his ownership of the Broncos, including chair of the Broadcast Committee (2001-06) and co-chair of the Compensation Committee (2007-09) and the Management Council Executive Committee (2007-10).
  • Helped negotiate the NFL's $18 billion television contract in 1998, the most lucrative single-sport contract in history.
  • Played a key role in several extensions of the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • The Broncos have played eight international games in six different countries under Mr. Bowlen's ownership (7 American Bowls, 1 regular season game in London), marking the third‐most such games in the league.
  • Mr. Bowlen has maintained a substantial profile in the community during his three decades as the Denver Broncos' owner, including donating more than $25 million to charitable organizations in the last 20 years.
  • Introduced as the majority owner of the Broncos on March 23, 1984; Mr. Bowlen and the Bowlen family acquired 100 percent ownership of the Broncos in July 1985.
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