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Sacco Sez: Pat Bowlen's greatness through my eyes

Every member of Broncos Country is excited to see Pat Bowlen move a step closer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Seldom has there been such a kinship between owner and fandom.

The statistics are overwhelming, from being the only owner to have his team win 300 games in his first 30 years, to key membership in virtually every major committee the National Football League has ever had, to being widely — and accurately — regarded as the father of "Sunday Night Football."

The list goes on and on, but all my best memories of Pat have to do with him as a man, and that is likely why he is such a great owner.

For me, it began the day I picked him up for his introductory press conference.

That in itself was a situation that could never happen now. Now there would be a cadre of security and team dignitaries present to take him, but then it truly was just me in my company car, picking up new owner Pat Bowlen and his attorney, Bill Britton.

Bill sat in the front seat, Pat in the back, and I was appropriately nervous.

"Mr. Bowlen, I have come up with some talking points," I said.

"What are talking points," he replied.

"They are some ideas about questions the press might ask, and ways you might answer them."

"I'm not too worried about any of that," the new owner replied. "They can ask me anything they want and I will do my best to answer them."

I thought to myself, "This could be really, really good."

And it has been beyond really, really good. It has been great for 34 years, and Pat Bowlen has been the measuring stick for ownership in pro sports.

He has always been "Pat," if that is what employees chose to call him. He told me early on that one way to know that someone had never met him was if they called him "Patrick." He has always been Pat or "Mr. B."

A look back through Broncos history at some of the most memorable photos from Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen's tenure leading the team.

I remember one time I was with a fellow NFL PR man. I mentioned something about Pat, and he said, "You call your owner Pat?"

When I replied in the affirmative, my friend said, "If I ever called [our owner] anything other than Mister, that would be the final moment of my employment."

Too bad, I thought for my friend. We all cannot have an owner like Pat Bowlen.

For all the years of his regular attendance at the Broncos headquarters, his door was open to everyone, all the time, unless he already had a meeting under way.

I could always go in to talk about a problem that needed some assistance, and not only was he always available, Mr. B. always seemed to have the right answer.

My late father was the only other man in my life who always knew the answers.

His acts of charity was numerous but not always public. There were several times when I brought a financial request to him, from a community funeral to a public service donation, and not only was the answer in the affirmative, but he also added that I should never tell the press about it.

"Just do the right thing and give, and then shut up about it. Nobody needs to hear you blowing your own horn," he would say.

It was in one of those evening visits to his office, in this case to ask him if he wanted anything in particular in his press guide biography, when told me that "I just want us to be number one in everything."

Naturally, I made that line the lead to his bio and it has become a team mantra ever since.

He has been all about giving for the Denver community.

The largest single sculpture in the state of Colorado is "Broncos," the figure of seven galloping horses at the south entrance to the stadium.

It is identified as being a gift from the Bowlen family, but we all know that means it came from Pat.

On either side of the "Broncos" sculpture is Ring of Fame Plaza, the largest bronze-and-steel player tribute in professional football. When presented to him, he made the decision to give the go-ahead on that project in about 15 seconds.

Those things, plus three world championships, all came from Pat's drive and leadership.

I just hope we have come close to being "number one in everything" for Pat Bowlen, because he certainly has been for the Broncos and the city.

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