ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** As preparations ramp up for the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies, the Broncos are already looking forward to next year's class with hope for Owner Pat Bowlen's chances of joining Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Gary Zimmerman and John Elway in Canton, Ohio.
"Hopefully this is the year," President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said. "As we talked about so many times — how much he deserves it, what he's done for the league, his participation on different committees in the league and the relationships with the commissioners — what Pat has contributed to the NFL has grown it to where it is today.
"There is no question he deserves to be in there. I know he was really close last year. We're hoping and I guess we'll find out in a month or so. Hopefully he's that guy."
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has previously announced contributor committee finalists as early as mid-August.
"You definitely should let him into the Hall of Fame. His work, John spoke to it a few minutes ago, his work speaks for itself," President and CEO Joe Ellis said. "… Nine committees, a key part of [Former] Commissioner Tagliabue's regime, Commissioner [Roger] Goodell's for a period of time. You look at the vision he had for television — you can go back to [Former Chairman of NBC Universal Sports] Dick Ebersol, you can go back to David Hill at FOX Sports — Pat was an interval part of the growth of television in this league and television has been a huge driver for the success of the NFL.
"Then not only at that, he had his day job, which was here. He was here every single day, and that's not always the case with an owner. His success with this organization speaks for itself: 300 wins in 30 plus years, more Super Bowl appearances than losing seasons. … He deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's as much as you can say. You can't kick and scream but I think they know that and I'm hopeful that this year is his year."