ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As he answered questions about ownership at the Broncos' annual media barbecue, Joe Ellis held true to one key conviction:
He and the Pat Bowlen Trust must continue to honor Owner Pat Bowlen's wishes and requests.
And until a future ownership transition occurs, he will continue to serve in his role with the Broncos.
"I want to follow through on this for Pat," Ellis said Friday. "He asked me to do this a long time ago and he's done a lot for me. He's done a lot for my family and I know what he wanted and I know he wanted out of the three of us, his trustees. I know what he wanted out of me in serving in his place due to death or incapacity, and I'm a placeholder. But I'm going to see it through. I don't know when that will be, but I'm going to see it through.
"I think it is important — Pat was very clear on this — it's important to do this the right way and think it through and not be hasty in your decision because you don't have just an obligation to [the Bowlen] family. You have an obligation to the National Football League, my partners and most importantly, to this community and our fans, that we put the right person in there. So we're going to see through it, we're going to go through it that way."
That time has not yet arrived, but Ellis said Friday that he thinks the ownership transition should occur "as soon as [it] can."
"I do think it'll be a good thing when an owner is named, whether it's a child, or no child was deemed capable, then there would be an owner," Ellis said. "I do think that that's something that needs to happen for sure, obviously. I have no specific timetable other than a sense that I'd like to see it move along as quickly as we can move it along."
Ellis selling the team has "not really" been discussed. Per Pat Bowlen's requests, the trust will aim to "make every effort" to see if one of Pat Bowlen's children is capable and deserving of owning the team. If that is not the case, then the trust has been instructed to sell the team, Ellis said.
For now, though, the trust will continue to evaluate and search for one of Pat Bowlen's children who is able to take over his role.
Brittany Bowlen, the daughter of Pat and Annabel Bowlen, has expressed her interest in someday running the team, Ellis confirmed.
And while her credentials are already strong, Ellis said Brittany Bowlen has admitted to the trust that she is not yet ready to take over for her father.
"Yeah, she's expressed an interest to us, I will say that," Ellis said. "She's taken some steps, some good steps along the way in terms of education. She just finished up her MBA at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, is headed to work for one of the world's, frankly, leading consulting companies, McKinsey and Company. We talked it through and she's going to get some incredible business experience there from strategic management through marketing, finance and overall management perspective when they work on case studies and stuff. She's excited about that. She starts that up pretty soon.
"We'll see where it goes from there. We're not anointing anybody or anything like that, but she certainly has expressed an interest and she knows it's going to take some time for her to get ready. She's not ready yet. She's admitted that to us, obviously. We'll see where it goes, but she has expressed an interest."
When asked what Beth Bowlen Wallace would need to do in order to be considered for the ownership position, Ellis referred reporters to a statement he and the trust made in late May.
Ellis, though, did offer several categories that he believed the future owner would possess.
"There are some general qualities and things that we'll look at, there's no checklist per se, but it comes down to some areas of education, experience in the work place, judgement, integrity, leadership capabilities, earning the respect of people in the organization," he said.
In the meantime, Broncos fans should worry little about how any future developments should affect the team's football operations.
President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway, who reiterated his respect for the Bowlen family and Joe Ellis on Friday, expressed confidence that the franchise will always prioritize the product on the field.
"I will tell you this: I have no worries about what is going on with ownership," Elway said. "I have zero. It's not going to affect our football team. That will get handled. Mr. Bowlen put a plan in place and wanted the trust to execute it. In my opinion, I have total confidence in the fact that is going to happen the way that Mr. B wants that to happen. And the people on the trust know Mr. Bowlen very well and what he wanted. I will just tell you, I've had zero heartburn when it comes down to what is going on with the ownership because it's not going to affect what we do on the field.
"I also know that whatever happens there, they are also going to put the football team first because that is what Mr. Bowlen wanted and would want."