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Roger Goodell says NFL will arbitrate Broncos ownership dispute

Bill Bowlen lawsuit vs trust remains separate deal
Posted at 8:18 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 22:27:36-04

DENVER — Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke at the owners meetings Tuesday, revealing a significant development in the Broncos ownership drama.

The 18th Judicial Court, the trustees and the NFL have indicated that controlling ownership of the Broncos is a league matter based on recent developments. Goodell said Tuesday the NFL has accepted the trust's demand to arbitrate the issue. The process could be completed by the end of the year, per sources. Carmen Policy, a prominent figure with the San Francisco 49ers for decades, will serve as the arbitrator, his first time in the role.

"We have started the arbitration process. Carmen Policy, I selected him to oversee that he's begun the process," Goodell told reporters, including those from The Denver Post and The Athletic, from the owners meetings in Phoenix. "He's been at it 30-45 days at this stage. We'll leave it in the hands of the process until they come to some conclusion."

Bill Bowlen, Pat Bowlen's brother, filed a lawsuit several months ago, seeking the removal of the trust which is currently overseeing the team since Pat Bowlen stepped down in 2014 because of his battle with Alzheimer's disease. Earlier this month, the court ruled that Bill Bowlen's case can proceed, but it denied Bowlen's motion to stay NFL arbitration. Tuesday, Beth Bowlen Wallace and Amie Klemmer filed a motion to dismiss the arbitration and have not agreed to the process, according to The Athletic.

Bowlen Wallace expressed her desire to own the team last spring, spawning a series of statements and legal maneuvers. The trust responded to her goal by stating flatly that "she is not capable or qualified at this time" to own the team. Wallace previously worked for the team, but her position was terminated. Bill Bowlen supports her bid to run the team.

On Monday, CEO Joe Ellis told reporters he expects Brittany Bowlen to rejoin the franchise in a senior management position within the year. She has long been considered the frontrunner to run the team. In October, Brittany Bowlen, for the first time publicly, voiced her desire to become the controlling owner of the Broncos. Working in the front office would appear to accelerate the 29-year-old's bid to take over for her father.

"I would expect her to return. I don't know what the exact date would be. It could be December. It could be January," Ellis said of Brittany Bowlen. "It could be maybe earlier if I had my way. There are several strategic initiatives where she can be very helpful to the organization. She has the right skillset. She learned a lot at (McKinsey & Company Global Consulting), through business school and her (previous work) at the NFL (office). I am excited to have her back."

As for the arbitration, Policy must evaluate the trustees to see if they are following the necessary steps to complete a successful succession plan.