Broncos induct Bowlen into their ring of fame
DENVER (AP) Peyton Manning was glad he was able to deliver a victory on Pat Bowlen's big night.
Playing his best game of a difficult season, Manning led the Broncos to a 29-10 blowout of the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers to give Denver its first 7-0 start since the 1998 championship team.
Before delivering a jab at his critics who contended he was washed up at 39, noting, ''I don't look at this like an `I told you so' moment because I don't really listen to what you say in the first place,'' Manning said it was nice to win one for his notoriously competitive team owner whose .614 winning percentage since buying the team in 1984 is tops in the NFL.
The Broncos inducted Bowlen into their ring of fame during halftime ceremonies.
Terrell Davis, the hero of the 1997 Super Bowl team that was honored before the game, said Bowlen ''may not be here in body but he's definitely here in spirit.''
Bowlen, 71, stepped down from his daily duties running the team 15 months ago to fight Alzheimer's.
''Just a good win tonight,'' Manning said. ''It came at a good time. Any time you're putting your owner in the ring of fame, you have to win the game, right? I think that's just kind of the rule.
''That was good tonight and a special honor for the Bowlen family.''
Bowlen's wife, Annabel, accepted the honor on her husband's behalf, telling the crowd of 77,043 (just 32 no-shows): ''Now that he's in the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, I think we can all agree that Pat's next stop should be the Pro Football Hall of Fame.''
Bowlen's induction weekend brought back a lot of memories but also some melancholy moments.
''I don't think it's easy for any of us, really,'' team president Joe Ellis said earlier in the week. ''The fact that he's getting honored this week, it's the right thing to do for all the great things that he did for this team and the city and this community and the NFL.
''But having said that, I think this just is a reminder to us that we still wish he was here coming through that door every day. So, the emotions remain the same, I think.''
Bowlen is the first owner in pro football history to win 300 games, including playoffs, in three decades and he owns more Super Bowl appearances (six) than losing seasons (five).
Ellis, who has been running the team since Bowlen stepped away, said he still does things in a ''what would Pat do?'' sort of way.
''It's not hard because his guidelines and his principles were very simple,'' Ellis said. ''It was about winning games and doing things the right way. And wins came before profits and revenues.''
Ellis said Bowlen wasn't only devoted to his Broncos but the NFL, ''and the testimony to that is all the committees he served on and the sounding boards (he was) for the commissioners he worked under.''
Among those who came to celebrate his induction were former coaches: Mike Shanahan and Dan Reeves, who was inducted into the ring of fame last year.
Ownership of the franchise is held in a trust Bowlen set up more than a decade ago in hopes that one of his seven children will one day run the team.
''Oh, I think the family very much wants to hold onto the team and keep owning the team,'' Ellis said.
Like Bowlen's wife, Ellis and GM John Elway said they're hopeful the next stop for Bowlen is the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor like Ron Wolf and Bill Polian were enshrined this year.
''Hopefully it's soon,'' Elway said Friday night at a ceremony dedicating a bonze likeness of Bowlen outside Sports Authority Field. ''I think that his track record speaks for itself.''
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