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John Elway: Pat Bowlen’s shoes will never be filled

Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback and president of football operations John Elway had a close relationship with Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, who bought the team a year after Elway arrived. On Friday, Elway reflected on his time with Bowlen, who died overnight at the age of 75.

“Pat gave me so much and he was someone that I always looked up to,” Elway said in a statement released by the team. “He gave this team everything we needed to be the best and compete for championships, and the focus was always on football. That’s all you can ask for in an owner -- yet he did more.

“He was a tremendous mentor to me and a tremendous friend. Pat was a great listener, always asking what was going on, and I learned so much from watching him. He was a terrific leader. Whether things were going right or things weren’t going right, he would always let you know what we needed to get better. He did a great job of applying pressure at the right times but always trusted his football people to make the right decisions. Other than his family, nothing meant more to Pat than making sure the Denver Broncos were successful. What he did for this team, this city and the entire NFL will never be matched. His shoes will never be filled. I will miss Pat greatly and will always treasure the times we had together. We’ll continue to take care of his team as if he were here today. My deepest sympathies are with Annabel and the entire Bowlen family.”

Bowlen added Elway to the front office in 2011, a bold move that paid dividends in the form of a Super Bowl win. Elway won consecutive titles as a player, before retiring after the 1998 season.