Whether judged by his influence on the Denver Broncos, on the entire National Football League or on the individuals who worked with him daily here at the Broncos, Pat Bowlen has had an impact that is truly incredible.
You have read over and over the story of his legacy of winning and creating a championship culture here with the Broncos, and by now most fans are aware that he is not only the father of "Sunday Night Football," but also that he has served on more committees than almost any owner ever, and those factors more than qualify him to get that final "yes" vote that will put him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
They say in journalism that sometimes when a story gets real big, write it small. The little things tell the tale.
And so it is with Pat.
I do not most often think of his win-loss record, the 300 wins in his first 30 years or his being a member of the "kitchen cabinet" for not one but two NFL commissioners.
The small things that he so often did for me and everyone else, most often done in privacy and away from public view, establish his greatness to me on a very personal level.
It is now so common for public figures to have lengthy briefings with their public relations people before meeting the press, but Pat was absolutely never that way.
He just let people ask whatever questions they wanted, and then made his best effort to give a candid answer.
Sometimes this got him into a little hot water, but so what?
The press always say they want to hear the truth, and they always appreciated that in Pat.
Through the years: Pat Bowlen's years as Broncos Owner
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Sometimes people would ask me how I could leave him alone with members of the press.
For one, the press (and he) appreciated his candor without my looking over his shoulder like a watchman. For another, he is the owner. And the owner can say pretty much whatever he feels like whenever he feels like it.
I always appreciated that.
There were a number of times when I brought a charity request to Mr. B — paying part of funeral costs, sponsoring things to for youth or prep football in the state, and so forth.
He never said no, never suggested I set up a committee to "study the matter."
Pat invariably offered to pay, generally either the entire cost or way more than was requested, but with one stipulation: I keep my mouth shut and never mention it to the press.
"You do the right thing because it is the right thing, and do not look for publicity showing how generous you are," Mr. B would intone.
And that is why I am not mentioning specific instances here.
He asked me not to, and I will honor that request always.
His door way always open, and I could go in and talk to him anytime. Casually, seriously or real seriously.
He listened and then acted, and his instincts to make the right move were tremendous.
Maybe that's because he was always focused on doing the right thing — not necessarily the right thing PR-wise, although it was fascinating to see that the "right thing" was generally both a great PR move as well.
There is a common guiding line for judgment of Hall of Fame candidates — "Do you feel that when you watched this guy perform you were watching one of the great players of his era?"
Mr. B, though not a player, exceeded that standard in a big way in his own role as a team owner and member of many NFL committees.
Watching and having the honor of working with Pat Bowlen made me certain I was in the presence of an owner who was not just among the best of his era, but among the very best in NFL history.
We now are less than two months away from that final vote, and I know that Mr. B is most deserving of that ultimate honor.