My connection to Pat Bowlen is minor at best. My interactions with the longtime Denver Broncos owner were slim to none, with the only insight into his life being filtered through a television screen or the stories of those who had known him on some level.
But, as many of us in Broncos Country feel, my affection and admiration for a man I’ve never truly met go beyond anything that can reasonably be expressed here.
I say that to say this: The significance of this weekend has not been lost on me.
Sunday would have been my father’s 84th birthday. It has been just more than two years since he passed.
And while that pain, from my limited experience, lessens, it never fully goes away.
No matter how strained the relationship between he and I had been, it stings to know I’ll never see his face or hear his voice again.
This man, who (along with my siblings and mother) fostered my love for sports. This man, who many called John, but I called Dad.
Particularly poignant, though, Sunday happens to also be Father’s Day, a phenomenon that was enjoyable growing up but is less so today.
Living through the holiday after the loss of a father can be difficult even with months to prepare, let alone just days.
And while I’ll never know the pain and suffering of witnessing such a horrible and utterly unfair disease like Alzheimer’s run its course on a loved one, a small part of me — and likely many others — can empathize with how excruciating these next few days will be for the Bowlens.
With Mr. Bowlen as sort of an unofficial father figure to Broncos fans and the greater Denver community in general, thank you for sharing him with us.
And please know while we may not fully understand the extent of your pain, Broncos Country grieves with you.
Rest in peace, Mr. Bowlen. You’ll be sorely missed.