The owner of the Denver Broncos has stepped down to focus on his health as he fights against Alzheimer's disease.
In a statement first released to the Denver Post Wednesday, the team acknowledged that Pat Bowlen, 70, had been "courageously and privately" battling the disease over recent years, but had reached a point where he could no longer be a part of the team's daily operations.
Bowlen reportedly arranged a succession plan years ago, and under it team president Joe Ellis will now assume control of the team. The Broncos say Bowlen hopes that someday one of his children will run the organization.
On the official NFL website, Commissioner Roger Goodell offered his full support to Bowlen, while acknowledging it was a "sad day for the NFL."
"Pat Bowlen's leadership has been critical to the success of the Broncos and the entire NFL. From building a championship team that is a pillar of the community to his important work for the league on television and labor matters, Pat's love of the game drove him and we have all benefited from his passion and wisdom. But the time has come for Pat to focus on his health and we fully support him. Joe Ellis has been a trusted executive for Pat for many years after working with us at the league office. Joe's deep experience ensures that the Broncos will continue to have strong leadership."