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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 On Tuesday, a Denver judge ruled that agreement was no longer valid.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

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.

Go deeper: NFL eliminating Wonderlic test from draft process

Go deeper

The NFL has an extraordinary grip on America’s media diet

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The NFL has had a banner season in terms of ratings and engagement, thanks in large part to the return of fans to stadiums, a slew of suspenseful games and of course, some off-field drama.

Why it matters: The 2021 viewership spike has quieted concerns regarding 2020's COVID-related decline, while also justifying the $100+ billion in media deals the league signed with its partners in March.

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.