ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the day approaches when the Pro Football Hall of Fame's selection committee convenes to decide on its 2019 class of enshrinees, President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway and President and CEO Joe Ellis are confident that Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen's qualifications speak for him and speak loudly.
"He's right on the doorstep, so we hope that the final say comes on Super Bowl [weekend] and Pat goes in," Elway said Monday. "He's obviously very deserving, so we're very excited about the fact that he's gotten this far. We feel good about where he is."
Bowlen's achievements in his 35 years owning the Broncos are numerous, though the most notable of which must be that his teams have as many Super Bowl appearances as losing seasons. He also has been a key figure in shaping the league's growth through his leadership on the NFL's Broadcasting Committee, which wrangled the largest single-sport TV contract in history.
Bowlen finally was selected by the Hall of Fame’s Contributors Committee on Aug. 23 to be a finalist for the Class of 2019, moving him one step away from the ultimate goal.
That decision will come on Feb. 2, 2019, when the Selection Committee votes on the entire group of finalists, which will include Bowlen, fellow Contributors Committee nominee Gil Brandt, Senior Committee finalist Johnny Robinson and 15 Modern-Era finalists, who will be revealed early on Jan. 3, 2019. A finalist must receive at least 80 percent of the Selection Committee's votes to be named a Hall of Famer.
At that point, Bowlen's long wait to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame could come to an end.
"His credentials speak for themselves," Ellis said Monday. "I anticipate and believe strongly that he will officially get voted in on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, and that would be a great moment."
Bowlen, unfortunately, won't be able to attend the finalist festivities as he continues to fight Alzheimer's disease, but Ellis knows that if Bowlen does get elected, it will be quite the moment for him and his family, in addition to all of Broncos Country.
"It'd be a great moment," Ellis said. "[It would be] a nice moment for him. I wish he could be more a part of it. It'd certainly be nice for his family."
But there's one thing, perhaps, that would make Bowlen even happier than just him being chosen for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Ellis added.
"If someone else could sneak in there with him, that would make him really happy," Ellis said. "Especially if it was Steve Atwater [or] Champ Bailey, two of his favorite players. That would mean a lot to him."