Jan 13, 2022 - Sports

Judge clears path for potential Denver Broncos sale

Illustration of the Denver Bronco's mascot logo with a "for sale" sign hanging from it's mouth.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A judge's ruling has removed a major roadblock to the sale of the Denver Broncos, which now appears imminent.

Driving the news: In 1984, Pat Bowlen bought the Broncos from Edgar Kaiser Jr., who secured a right of first refusal on a potential future sale. On Tuesday, a Denver judge ruled that agreement was no longer valid.

Why it matters: The Broncos are valued at $3.8 billion, per Sportico. A sale would smash the record for richest in sports history (currently: Brooklyn Nets, $2.35 billion).

The backdrop: With the Kaisers out of the picture, all eyes are on the Bowlens — a family whose infighting over the line of succession would make the Roy family blush.

  • When Pat stepped down from day-to-day operations in 2014 with advanced Alzheimer's, team ownership was put into a trust. Trustees then had two options: choose a successor, or sell the team.
  • No successor had been named when Pat died in 2019, and his seven children are no closer to picking one now.
  • In fact, they've split into factions, with two daughters from Bowlen's first marriage suing the trust last year in an effort to dissolve it (the case was ultimately dismissed).
Data: Sportico; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios
Data: Sportico; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

What to watch: With the Bowlen family drama unlikely to resolve itself, six groups plan to submit bids, per the Denver Gazette's Woody Paige. Peyton Manning and John Elway are both expected to be involved.

  • Whoever places the winning bid will inherit a team in flux. Head coach Vic Fangio was fired on Sunday, and starting QB Teddy Bridgewater (their 11th since Manning retired) is a free agent.
  • Denver hasn't made the postseason since winning Super Bowl 50 in 2016, the longest post-championship playoff drought in NFL history.

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