There's a new and extremely sad twist regarding the Bowlen family fight over the Denver Broncos. Annabel Bowlen, wife of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, has announced that she is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, the same malady that caused her husband to give up formal control of the franchise in 2014. Pat's diagnosis ultimately sparked a battle among his children regarding who will carry the Broncos into the future.
The Broncos' announcement of Annabel's condition includes statements from her, team president and CEO Joe Ellis, who's been handling day-to-day operations in concert with legendary quarterback turned squad executive John Elway, and her five children: Patrick, Brittany, Annabel (named for her mom), Christiana and John, referred to as "Johnny."
Not included is Beth Bowlen Wallace, a daughter from Pat's first marriage, who announced a few weeks back that she's ready, willing and able to take over ownership of the team — an offer that was met with cold disinterest by Ellis and company.
Pat made it clear that he wants one of his kids to inherit his role with the Broncos — and most observers figured son John Bowlen would eventually be given the keys to the locker room. But that was before he was busted for a 2015 domestic-violence episode involving whippets and booze and a 2017 DUI that established him as an even bigger douchebag celebrity son than Jordan Hancock, son of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
These incidents would seem to exempt John from serious consideration as Pat's successor, since the trust his dad established calls for strong leadership and integrity in addition to a high level of education and five years of senior management experience. But most of Pat's other children fall short by this measure, too. Daughters Annabel, Brittany and Christiana are considered to be too young to have accrued the desired experience level, son Patrick fails to meet the education requirement, and eldest daughter Amie Bowlen Klemmer doesn't seem interested.
As for the elder Annabel, there have been signs that she, like Pat, has been struggling with memory issues in recent years. Enter her name into the search field at YouTube and the first clip that comes up is entitled "Denver Broncos Owner Annabel Bowlen Forgets What Team She Owns." It's based on her comments following the Broncos' victory in Super Bowl 50.
The public acknowledgment that both Bowlens have Alzheimer's has clearly brought a group of Pat's offspring together — and it appears to have further isolated others.
The rumor mill suggests that Ellis and Elway see Brittany Bowlen as the most capable of the kids when it comes to eventually taking over the Broncos, but such a move is likely a few years away. We don't know yet if Annabel's situation will speed up that process or prompt more maneuvers from Beth. What's clear, however, is that the latest development in the Bowlen saga is among the most distressing yet.
Continue to read the statements from Annabel Bowlen, her five children and CEO Joe Ellis.
Annabel Bowlen statement:
"I recently learned that I’ve joined my husband Pat and the millions of others who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
"Since Pat’s diagnosis, I have gained a vivid understanding of this disease’s progression and its effect on those living with it as well as their families. My family and I have been — and will remain — dedicated supporters of Alzheimer’s awareness, treatment and research funding.
"I decided to make my diagnosis public right away in the hope that it continues to raise awareness for those battling Alzheimer’s and their loved ones. With June also being Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the timing was right for me to share this personal update with everyone.
"I feel that it is important for people to know that those in my situation do not need to completely withdraw from their daily activities. Based on my own experience with Pat, there will still be many joyous and rewarding moments for me as well as my family and friends.
"I intend to proceed in life with the same strength, courage and endurance that Pat has shown in his battle with this disease. Like Pat, I know there will be good days and bad days ahead. I’m grateful to have the support of my family and especially my children — Patrick, Johnny, Brittany, Annabel and Christianna.
"It’s my hope to remain involved in various Alzheimer’s events as my health allows. And of course, I’ll be cheering on our Broncos.
"Most importantly, thank you to all of our incredible fans for the compassion and support you’ve given to me, Pat and our entire family."
Patrick, Johnny, Brittany, Annabel and Christianna Bowlen statement:
"We are fully supportive of our mother and will face her Alzheimer’s diagnosis together as a family.
"During the last few years, all of us have been inspired by the strength and courage our mother has shown as she’s supported our father in his own battle with Alzheimer’s disease. We’re confident that she will bring the same grace, compassion and determination to her fight.
"In addition to being a loving mother, she has always found ways to positively impact our community. By publicly announcing her illness, we are reminded again of our mother’s commitment to raising awareness and empowering those living with Alzheimer’s disease.
"We’ll continue to support our parents, stay strong as a family and do our part to raise awareness for everyone affected by Alzheimer’s disease."
Joe Ellis statement:
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"Our hearts go out to Annabel and the entire Bowlen family. She’s been a wonderful ambassador and advocate for the Broncos over the years, especially in recent seasons as Pat has focused on his own battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
"All of us at the Broncos are behind Annabel and know she’ll face this challenge with courage and determination.
"Our support extends not only to Annabel and Pat, but also to their children. While having both parents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is daunting, they’ve already demonstrated such strength and compassion in their roles as caregivers.
"We commend Annabel for her brave public announcement and look forward to increasing our involvement in the Alzheimer’s community."