ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Following the 2021 season, the Broncos plan to undergo a transition of ownership that will take place before the beginning of the 2022 NFL slate, President and CEO Joe Ellis announced Tuesday.
Until the end of this season, though, the Broncos' focus will remain on football.
"Our goal is a timely, responsible and orderly determination of ownership," Ellis said. "What that will entail for us — there's some things that we still need to work through — but our goal is to be able to lay out, when the season is over — and [Head Coach] Vic [Fangio] has promised that will be in the middle of February — that we lay out for everybody a timeline to a transition of ownership that will take place next year prior to the start of the season. That's important. It's important to the organization. It's important to the beneficiaries — Pat [Bowlen]'s children — to get it resolved and we're moving forward on that.
"The team is not for sale. There are a few options out there as to what we can do. You're probably aware of those. We're going to get through this season. Our goal is to focus on that, have a good year and hopefully be competitive and be around for the postseason tournament once that begins. That's where our focus is. Until the season's over, you're not going to hear a whole lot about the future of ownership of the team."
Ellis said the transition will occur next year and that "yours truly won't be the controlling owner by sometime in the spring or summer."
"I can't put an exact deadline on it, but believe me, we need to get it resolved," Ellis said.
Ellis said there are several options for the transition of ownership, including having Broncos Senior Vice President of Strategy Brittany Bowlen serve as controlling owner or selling the team.
"Well, the sale of the team is always possible, obviously," Ellis said. "That's one [option]. If it's going to stay in the family, Brittany is really the other option. There are certain … conditions that will go with that. They could come in various forms. There might be one or two other options within that option, if that makes sense."
Ellis said Bowlen has worked hard and added "a lot of value" during her most-recent stint with the organization that began in 2019. Bowlen has led both the Broncos' COVID-19 task force and the team's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts. Bowlen has also been involved with business development and fan engagement initiatives. She has maintained offices at both UCHealth Training Center and Empower Field at Mile High.
"I'm conversing with her all the time," Ellis said. "We have weekly meetings. In some form, her being able to run the team is a consideration, for sure. It will require some conditions from beneficiaries and others, perhaps. If she is going to run it, that conclusion will be made sometime next year as well. That's one of the options for sure. As I said, there are certain conditions that come with that. I'm not going to comment too much on those, because those involve discussions with other beneficiaries and those are private in my view."
Ellis reiterated that there would need to be "an agreement" between the beneficiaries in order for Bowlen to "move forward" as controlling owner. If Bowlen were to become controlling owner, the Pat Bowlen Trust would remain in place, according to Ellis. The Trust, though, could be comprised of different members.
"I think the biggest thing, the one thing that sticks out to me is [Bowlen's] ability to earn it and not throw her weight around, which she probably could have because she's the daughter of the owner, effectively," Ellis said. "She's just come in here and tried to earn everybody's trust and respect and I think she's done a really good job of that. Her emotional intelligence, it stands out to me. I think she's got the potential to do this, but we'll have to see how it plays out."
Ellis said he has been in communication with both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, a member of the NFL's finance committee. Ellis said the Broncos were "OK on that front" in regards to the team's plan for a transition of ownership.
Ellis plans to remain in his role until the next controlling owner, president and CEO are in place.
"I will see through, whoever the next controlling owner is, a transition to a new CEO — which may be the owner — and a new president, and I will be out," Ellis said. "I will see that transition through. That shouldn't take too long."
And while the Broncos' plan would mean that Ellis would step down from his role next year, he is more focused on this year's team rather than his decades in the league and with the Broncos.
"I would like to be able to stand up in front of the group here in person and talk about a good season," Ellis said. "I've come before you for the last several training camps spewing optimism and excited and the numbers — 5-11, 6-10, 7-9 and 5-11 — come out at the end of the year. Listen, [GM] George [Paton] has done a terrific job of bringing in some new players to bolster up our team. I think Vic going into his third year has a handle on the team, and I'm very confident he'll do a good job and that we're in a position to win. We've got to win. We just have to win. It's kind of enough already for me personally, just watching it. I've been here for a lot of years when we had some success, and to have it carry on in the other direction for as long as it has, it's tough for everybody.
"I just want to see us turn the corner and be successful. We've got to really do that now."