Jay C. Brandriet
The new members of the pro football Hall of Fame received their jackets in an emotional ceremony last night. After the seven new inductees were standing on stage, Rich Eisen needed to mention the eighth. He said the following words.
“Please put your hands together for one of the most influential owners in the history of the National Football League. A man who brought multiple Super Bowl championships to the great football city of Denver Colorado….. Pat Bowlen.”
Mr. Bowlen passed away this last June. He was the owner of the Broncos for thirty years, which included the John Elway era.
Pat Bowlen accomplished a lot. I’ts a few words he said that left a mark on my memory.
Speaking of quarterback John Elway.
Before the NFL Sunday Ticket, you watched whatever the networks chose to show that weekend. Growing up in Salt Lake City, the Denver Broncos were forced down our television throats. I almost resented them for it.
Nobody had more QB skills than number seven. Each week, I’d hope Elway would lose. He usually led his team to a dramatic comeback victory. More resentment.
I knew there was something unfair about how Elway was perceived. It was common to hear him referred to like this.
“Elway is a choke artist.”
“He will get you there, but the guy can’t win the big one.”
This was Elway’s reputation late into his career. It was a shocking irony.
I understood he had lost in three Super Bowls.
Still, I thought he was the best clutch player in the AFC.
Fast forward to January 25th 1998.
Green Bay Packers vs. the Denver Broncos.
It was Super Bowl 32, and Elway’s fourth chance to get that elusive ring.
The story line and pressure made this exhilarating.
Because I’m a Dallas Cowboy’s fan, I would typically cheer for the NFC team. This year was no different.
As the fourth quarter began, the game was very close.
I had a change of heart, and started cheering for Denver.
It was Elway I was rooting for.
The underdog Broncos did it. They beat the Packers 31 to 24.
The Denver sideline went berserk.
The look on John’s face was unforgettable. A dose of massive relief was coming over him, trying to release the years of pain.
On the podium, Pat Bowlen said something I’ll never forget.
“There’s one thing I want to say here tonight. There’s only four words.”
“THIS ONE’S FOR JOHN!”
He handed Elway the Lombardi trophy.
Chills went through my body. My football soul was full of joy.
He had annoyed me for 15 years.
His amazing career had finally received its justice.
Getting the respect he was due, was more important than my sports resentment.
That one, WAS for John.
By 2016 Pat Bowlen was struggling with his health. We later learned he had alzheimer’s.
Elway was now the general manager of the Broncos. They had just won Super Bowl 50. Jim Nantz asked John, “what does this one mean to you?”
“He would not want me to say this but…. THIS ONE’S FOR PAT!”
Pat Bowlen’s four words will live forever.
Jay C. Brandriet