Who Will Run The Broncos? Lawsuit Dismissal Makes It A Little Clearer

Broncos Football
Jack Dempsey/AP
Brittany Bowlen, right, daughter of late Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, and Annabel Bowlen, left, wife of Pat Bowlen smile prior to an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in November 2018 in Denver.

The Denver Broncos are set to exercise late owner Pat Bowlen's plan of succession after a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by his brother.

Brittany Bowlen, 29, is planning to return to the team in a senior management position following her wedding in September, beginning a process she hopes will lead to her taking over as the franchise's controlling owner.

Arapahoe County Court Judge John E. Scipione dismissed John Bowlen's lawsuit Thursday. John Bowlen had sought to remove team President Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Slivka and Denver lawyer Mary Kelley as trustees of the Patrick D. Bowlen trust, claiming they weren't acting in good faith or in his late brother's best interests.

After John Bowlen's lawsuit was filed in October, the trustees asked the NFL to arbitrate the matter rather than the courts, and Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed ex-49ers executive Carmen Policy as arbitrator.

The Broncos are confident the league will rule in favor of the trust, which is in charge of selecting the next controlling owner of the franchise valued at more than $2.5 billion.

Pat Bowlen, who died in June at age 75, two months before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, had set up the trust several years ago, and the trustees ran the team after Bowlen stepped down in 2014 as he battled Alzheimer's.

Beth Bowlen Wallace, 49, announced in May 2018 that she wanted to take over the franchise but the trust responded by saying she wasn't "capable or qualified at this time." Ellis later said Brittany Bowlen was the leading candidate among the owner's seven children to take over the team, and last fall she announced her intention to pursue that position.

Brittany Bowlen, who spent a year as a business analyst for the team, is currently working for global consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Denver.

Ellis told The Associated Press at the start of training camp that Brittany Bowlen will join the team this fall in a rotating role generally focused on the business side.

"She's got to prove herself," Ellis said last month. "There's more pressure on her than any other employee. And then we'll see. If that works out, then there's room for growth. Pat always said, 'Listen, I'd love to be able to keep it in the family if I can and have a child run it, but if that's not the case, then the team will be sold.' And so we're not there to assign anybody that role yet."