Broncos Heir John Bowlen: Whippets, Booze in Domestic Violence Bust

If it had been a good day for the Denver Broncos, the lead story about the team yesterday would have been Von Miller's revelation that he's often been fined for farting at meetings.

It wasn't a good day for the Denver Broncos.

That's because TMZ featured a report about John Bowlen Jr., the 29-year-old son of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen (and possible heir apparent to his dad, who gave up control of the Broncos franchise last year as a result of Alzheimer's Disease) in the wake of his arrest Wednesday night, June 3, on domestic violence charges.

Moreover, the details, as shared in an affidavit obtained by 7News and other agencies, make John seem like a brainless, entitled man-boy whose behavior was reportedly fueled by alcohol and whippets — yes, nitrous-oxide chargers of the sort whose use even the most idiotic frat bros tend to outgrow by graduation.

The episode is reminiscent of the one that ensnared Jack Elway, son of team executive and gridiron great John Elway, last year. Jack was busted for allegedly pulling his girlfriend out of his car so violently that he tore out some of her hair extensions.

In the end, Jack pleaded his domestic violence beef down to disturbing the peace with a little help from attorney Harvey Steinberg, who we name-checked in the first paragraph of our post about the younger Elway's day in court. The passage reads: "There are definitely some advantages to being John Elway's son. Example: If you land in trouble, as 25-year-old Jack Elway did in late May, the lawyer you get to use is Harvey Steinberg, who's spent years helping Broncos players such as Perrish Cox skate in the face of serious charges (in Cox's case, rape)."

We mention this because the affidavit quotes John, who's been working for the Broncos as a corporate partnerships coordinator, as saying, “I didn’t do anything wrong! I didn’t do anything and I’m going to call Harvey."

As for the incident itself, which took place in an apartment at 4550 Cherry Creek Drive South, Bowlen's girlfriend of ten months told police in Glendale, which has jurisdiction in the area, that she'd dialed 911 because after drinking and inhaling whippets, John announced that he'd killed someone.

Who? Supposedly someone "with whom he'd had prior contact" — and his statement apparently freaked out his girlfriend enough to run to the bathroom and punch in the aforementioned three digits.

The arrest report maintains that John reacted by shoving her against a wall, causing her to drop her cellphone, which he then grabbed.

Moments later, the 911 operator rang the line and John answered. He told the operator, "This is the owner of the Denver Broncos. I am sorry. Nothing is wrong. This is John Bowlen; Johnny Bowlen."

This assertion might have been more convincing had a woman not been heard screaming in the background. No wonder the cops rushed to the scene. The affidavit says she was crying in the bathroom upon officers' arrival and was "in fear for her safety and in shock at the time."

Despite his connections, John was held overnight in Arapahoe County jail, then released on a $1,000 bond following a Thursday afternoon court appearance.

The Broncos released a statement about John that reads:
We are disappointed to learn of the matter involving John Bowlen, who is a son of Owner Pat Bowlen and an administrative employee with the organization," the Broncos said in a statement. "While this is a personal issue, he is accountable to all club and league conduct policies. As such, John will be placed on an indefinite leave of absence from the organization.
Put your money on the domestic violence charge being pleaded down. A more interesting question is whether the episode will impact John's opportunity to really become the owner of the Broncos. After Pat Bowlen relinquished control of the team last year, the Denver Post listed him first among the Bowlen children (there are seven of them) most likely to take charge.

If and when he does, you can bet we'll have another opportunity to see the photo above, as well as this mug shot snapped when he was taken to jail.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts