NFL notebook: Broncos owner Bowlen has Alzheimer's, steps down

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen.
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen.
Photo by Getty Images
| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 7:33 p.m.

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is giving up control of the team because of Alzheimer's disease.

The 70-year-old Bowlen no longer will be a part of the club's daily operations, the Broncos announced Wednesday. Team president Joe Ellis is adding the title of chief executive officer and will have final say on all matters.

The Broncos said the ownership of the franchise is held in a trust Bowlen set up more than a decade ago in hopes that one of his seven children one day will run the team.

“As many in the Denver community and around the National Football League have speculated, my husband, Pat, has very bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer's disease for the last few years. He has elected to keep his condition private because he has strongly believed, and often said, ‘It's not about me,' ” Annabel Bowlen said in a statement.

Bowlen had reduced his public appearances in recent years, although he still was a fixture at the team's Dove Valley complex and at all of its games. After acknowledging in 2009 that he suffered short-term memory loss, he stepped back from day-to-day operations in 2011 when he promoted Ellis to president.

Under Bowlen's guidance, the Broncos won six AFC titles and two Super Bowls. At 307-203-1, Bowlen and New York Giants founder Tim Mara are the only three-decade owners in pro football history to win 60 percent of their games.

Gronk cleared to play

Rob Gronkowski was a training camp spectator last summer while recovering from surgery.

This summer, after another operation, the Patriots star tight end is expected to be on the field for the first practice Thursday.

“He's been cleared to play,” coach Bill Belichick said.

That's welcome news to his teammates after a season in which Gronkowski, a Woodland Hills graduate, played just seven regular-season games. He missed the first six after back surgery about a month before camp and the last three, plus both playoff games, with a torn ACL in his right knee.

RB Charles gets new deal

Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles reached a two-year contract extension with the Chiefs.

Charles is set to earn more than $18 million in new money from the agreement, the Kansas City Star reported.

The six-year NFL veteran ran for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns last year as the Chiefs reached the playoffs.

Seattle WR Rice retires

Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice is retiring from the NFL after an injury-plagued career that included issues with concussions.

Rice missed half of last season with the Seahawks after tearing his ACL against St. Louis. Rice re-signed with Seattle in the offseason on a $1 million, one-year deal.

Brown sues over title ring

Hall of Fame football star Jim Brown — running out of time to retrieve his 1964 NFL championship ring — sued a memorabilia dealer.

The 78-year-old Los Angeles resident filed the lawsuit in federal court against and Lelands Collectibles Inc.

The lawsuit seeks to halt the sale of the ring in an online auction that ends Friday. It also seeks unspecified damages over broadcast remarks Lelands' founder made about Brown.

Odds and ends

Dolphins Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who had hip surgery, is expected to miss the first eight weeks of the regular season, the Miami Herald reported. ... Browns rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert, the No. 8 overall pick, signed a four-year, $12.8 million contract. ... A Browns fan taped himself urinating beside Art Modell's grave in Pikesville, Md., and posted the video on YouTube, according to multiple reports. ... Tight end Vernon Davis reported to training camp with the 49ers after sitting out the offseason program and mandatory minicamp hoping for a new contract.

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