Without Pat Bowlen's involvement in NFL broadcasting, David Hill says, you don't get the programming that has dominated American television for two decades.
That was Bowlen's vision as chairman of the NFL Broadcasting Committee in 1998, and he saw it through to completion.
"Pat Bowlen has had an indelible touch on the history of the National Football League," said Hill, former chairman of the FOX Sports Media Group. "When Pat became involved in it … when you looked at it on television terms that the games on Sunday were OK but they weren't barnburners — Pat's involvement and Pat's understanding of the media and what the NFL could do, it was his vision."
In his work with the committee, Bowlen helped craft the stunning television contract that reshaped how millions of viewers experienced football. Without Bowlen's vision, and that of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, the present-day makeup of NFL television can't exist, Hill says.
"They saw a future for the NFL that I don't think anyone else could possibly perceive," Hill said in an interview with BroncosTV. "And when you look at what's happened since Pat became involved and Jerry became involved the league is now the number one television property in the country. Not by a little bit. By a huge margin.
"'Sunday Night Football,' 'Thursday Night Football', when you look at the NFL Network — they are all ideas that had their origins in the rarified air of Denver and the murky atmosphere of Dallas."
The spotlight is on Bowlen and his contributions not only to his team but to the league, as he will be considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's sole Contributor Committee's finalist spot this month. The 300 wins and 30 years and more Super Bowl seasons than losing seasons are big stats, but the league-wide impact will also be big factors in his Hall of Fame candidacy, to be sure.
And when it comes to the growth of the league, Bowlen's name is part and parcel to that conversation for his work on the television committee, his devotion to international growth and his involvement in the NFL's labor committee.
"They should drive him immediately to the Hall of Fame," former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol told Sports Illustrated in 2016. "It was on his watch that the economic indicator of the NFL, which has always been positive, went into super orbit."