It looks like Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen will have to wait another year to be considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
On Tuesday, the Hall’s Contributors Committee met and selected two NFL executives as finalists from a group of 10. The nine-person sub-committee ended up choosing former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — leaving Bowlen on the outside looking in for at least another year.
Bowlen, the Broncos’ owner since 1981, was under consideration for his role in overseeing one of the most successful franchises in football as well as his work as chairman of the TV committee.
Under Bowlen’s watch, the NFL transformed from a league that said it was losing money in TV deals to one that inked deals in the billions. He is credited with engineering a $1.53-billion deal in 1994 that gave Fox the NFL’s broadcasting rights. He later played a key role in a deal that started “Sunday Night Football” on NBC in 2006, which is consistently the highest-rated show on TV.
Bowlen’s also been wildly successful guiding the Broncos. In his 32 seasons with the franchise, Denver’s been to seven Super Bowls, won three of them and only had five losing seasons.
But those accomplishments apparently weren’t enough for Bowlen to finish among the top two in a crowded field. The timing is particularly rough because Bowlen is battling Alzheimer’s. Bowlen took a step back from running the team in 2014, giving his family more power to run the organization as he battled the disease.
Now he’ll have to wait until next year for consideration, and it will only be harder the next go-around. Only one non-player will be nominated in 2017. Who knows how Bowlen will be doing health-wise in a year’s time?
For Tagliabue and Jones, the process to have their busts enshrined in Canton, Ohio, continues in February. The entire 48-person Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee will convene Feb. 4 — on the eve of Super Bowl 51 — to hold a final vote. Candidates need 80 percent of the vote to qualify.
This was the third time Bowlen wasn’t selected as a finalist. He is 72 years old.