John Elway declares Super Bowl victory honors Broncos owner Pat Bowlen

Broncos general manager John Elway said, "This one's for Pat" when holding the Lombardi Trophy.

Matthew Emmons/Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

At Super Bowl XXXII, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen famously congratulated quarterback John Elway on the first of his two career championships by holding up the Lombardi Trophy after Denver’s 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers and declaring, "This one’s for John."

Eighteen years later, the Hall of Famer Elway was finally able to return the favor.

Moments after the Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, Elway, the Broncos’ general manager since 2011, honored Bowlen, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July 2014, with congratulations of his own.

"He would not want me to say this," Elway said after accepting the trophy from commissioner Roger Goodell. "But this one’s for Pat."

The touching tribute came shortly after Bowlen’s wife, Annabel, addressed the Levi’s Stadium crowd with a heartfelt message on her husband’s behalf.


"If Pat was here today, he would say he is very proud of his team and the best fans in the NFL," said Annabel Bowlen, who delivered a similar message after Denver’s win over the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game. "On behalf of the Bowlen family, congratulations to the Denver Broncos. For the third time, Broncos Country, you are Super Bowl champions."

Earlier this week, former Broncos safety and FOX NFL analyst John Lynch also talked about what a Broncos win would mean to the 71-year-old Bowlen, who has not attended a game in person since the end of the 2014 season.

"I think even at this stage of Alzheimer’s, the message is clear to everyone who knows him that it’s not about getting there," Lynch told FOX Sports. "It’s about winning them, and I think that’s what this group they’ve put together really wants to get done. And that’s for a lot of reasons, but one of them, particularly, is to add one more to [Bowlen’s] great legacy."

And on Sunday, Elway made it clear just how true that statement was.