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Sacco Sez: Mile High Monument reflects Pat Bowlen's impact

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The Broncos are putting the finishing touches on "Mile High Monument," which is a new feature located in the north parking lot adjacent to the stadium.

Mile High Stadium had the NFL's best home record from 1973-2000, and one of the biggest reasons was the incredible support of Denver fans.

From the highest seat in the upper deck to the iconic south stands, fans' passions developed to bring "Broncos Country" into existence. In particular, the loudest and most raucous fans in the stadium — known as "South Standers" — occupied the south stands.

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One of the great traditions of Mile High Stadium, sold out for every game from 1970 until its closing, was to boo the no-shows. The public address announcer would announce the attendance according to total attendance, tickets distributed, and no-shows, the latter of which always eliciting a tremendous round of boos.

Eventually the NFL made a decision to follow the pattern set in other sports and announce just one figure, the tickets distributed. That continues to be the standard today for official attendance figures.

But when I told team owner Pat Bowlen the change in NFL policy, he told me, "We will follow the league policy on all official documents, but when we announce that figure to the crowd, we will always announce the no-shows as well. The fans love to boo them and I'm not going to take that tradition away from the fans."

That is Pat Bowlen.

The fans come first today, and they always have.

The longest-tenured and most successful owner in Mile High Stadium history was Mr. B, who purchased the team in 1984.

His Broncos are the only team to have 90 or more wins in the decades of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. They are well on their way to making that feat in this decade as well.

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As many readers may know, I have very strong personal feelings about Pat Bowlen, which means the Pro Football Hall of Fame Contributors Committee's choices on Tuesday are particularly bothersome to me — to state it politely.

But Pat is one of the greatest owners in NFL history and a member of the Broncos' Ring of Fame, which he started almost immediately after purchasing the team in 1984.

Legacy, history and the fans were important to him from his first moment as owner. His ownership has truly been magical for the fans of Broncos Country.

Mr. B was always a familiar figure intently watching his team from the sidelines during pregame warmups, at the old stadium and the new one, and he would be there now if his health allowed.

He is the only owner in history to have won 300 games in his first 30 years of team ownership, a statistic that will prove quite a challenge to surpass.

A lot of organizations have mission statements, but I know that he always felt that your performance is your mission statement. The only ones that matter are those so brief that anyone can recite them.

He never officially had one, but I vividly remember when he told me, "I want us to be number one in everything." I submit that his Broncos have always performed to this statement, on and off the field: "Win with class."

I shall keep my Hall of Fame comments private at this time, but I know where he belongs.

Among many other things, the Mile High Monument is also a tribute to Pat, and I will never look at it without thinking of him and his Hall of Fame-worthy contributions to the Denver Broncos and pro football.

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