A new era for the Denver Broncos began Wednesday, when the Walton-Penner Group met publicly for the first time at the UCHealth Training Center in Centennial. NFL owners unanimously approved the sale of the team Wednesday.
“We're thrilled, thrilled to be part of the Broncos,” Rob Walton said. “Simply put it's an honor to steward this historic franchise. Our number one priority is putting a winning team on the field to win super bowls for Broncos country.”
The new group includes Walton’s daughter, Carrie Walton-Penner, and her husband, Greg Penner, Starbucks Chair Mellody Hobson, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Formula One driver Sir Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton, who owns property in Vail, was absent due to the racing season.
The sale of the Broncos officially closed on Wednesday.
At the presentation, Greg Penner was named CEO of the team.
“We also feel a deep sense of responsibility, and privilege to be in this position,” Penner said. “The Broncos are an iconic franchise that means so much to Denver, Colorado, and the whole region.”
Rice, a University of Denver alumni, said she was excited to return to Colorado. She said she grew up a Broncos fan.
“I’m part of the Orange Crush generation where you go into any grocery store or any restaurant and there were all of those Orange Crush cans piled up with Ruben Carter or Louis Wright peering over them,” said Rice. “This is a great tradition, a great heritage of winning.”
Hobson said it was a joy to partner with the other members of the group. She said she felt home with the team.
“I want to acknowledge the bond that I feel with the players, who like me have to have overcome a lot in their lives,” Hobson said. “And, I know the amount of focus and discipline that it has taken for them to get here.”
The Broncos still needs to find a team president. Penner said there was no timetable as to when that position would be filled. Penner also said they have been in touch with former Broncos quarterbacks Peyton Manning and John Elway about roles in the organization.
Penner reiterated that the group is new to professional sports and will hold itself accountable. But, the owner’s group will leave the personnel decisions and play-calling to general manager George Paton and head coach Nathaniel Hackett, respectively.
“We're gonna empower George Payton and Nathaniel Hackett to make those key decisions. They're going to make the football decisions,” Penner said.
“It’s an incredible group. Obviously, this is a business, but this is a sports franchise and we want to win and that’s our goal. Part of that is having a lot of fun as a family, with this group, while we do that.”
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