Bill Bowlen, the brother of Denver Broncos principal owner Pat Bowlen, is asking a Colorado District Court to remove the three members of a trust that is running the franchise with Pat Bowlen battling Alzheimer’s.
Pat Bowlen, who has been nominated as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, bought the team in 1984. He transferred control of the team to the Pat Bowlen Trust in 2014. The trust is run by team president Joe Ellis, Broncos general counsel Rich Slivka and attorney Mary Kelly.
Bill Bowlen cited conflicts of interest and argued the trustees have failed to uphold his brother’s wishes and act in the best interests of Pat Bowlen, his family and the NFL franchise, according to the petition filed with the Arapahoe County District Court on Thursday.
Bill Bowlen asked the court to appoint an independent party to serve as conservator of Pat Bowlen’s estate with the power to remove the trustees because Pat Bowlen, 74, is incapable of revoking the powers of attorney and the authority held by the trustees.
“We have not seen this lawsuit and first learned of it through a media report tonight,” Dan Reilly, legal counsel for the Pat Bowlen Trust, said in a statement Thursday night. “Although we are currently reviewing this matter, we are aware that the counsel submitting this complaint on behalf of Bill Bowlen is the same one that has been representing Beth Bowlen Wallace.
“The trustees will continue to execute Pat Bowlen’s long-standing succession plan for the Denver Broncos in compliance with all NFL ownership policies,” Reilly added.
When Beth Bowlen Wallace announced in May her desire to take over as principal owner of the team, the Pat Bowlen Trust issued a statement saying she was “not capable or qualified at this time.”
The lawsuit was filed five days after another of the Bowlen’s seven children, 28-year-old Brittany Bowlen, announced her intention to one day succeed her father as principal owner of the Broncos.
Brittany Bowlen received her master’s degree in business administration from Duke in May after graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in finance, working for two years at NFL headquarters and a year with the Broncos as a business analyst.
Terms of the trust require five years’ experience with the league or team. Brittany Bowlen, who began a job with McKinsey & Company at the global consulting firm’s downtown Denver branch, said she doesn’t have a timetable to rejoin the Broncos for more front office experience.
Brittany Bowlen said she couldn’t speak to her sister Beth’s similar interest in running the club, saying only that the trust allows any of the Bowlen children to pursue principal ownership and that she supports her siblings.
According to the petition filed by Bill Bowlen, Pat Bowlen owns about 76 percent of the club and his brother, John Bowlen, owns the remaining 24 percent. Bill Bowlen owned a stake in the team for 18 years and sold his interest to Pat Bowlen in 2002.
The club is valued at more than $2.5 billion.
Pat Bowlen’s wife, Annabel Bowlen, recently announced her own Alzheimer’s diagnosis.