Pat Bowlen’s influence on the NFL was immense

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Beyond the success of the franchise he purchased in 1984, and its success was sustained and impressive, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen helped the NFL achieve even greater success.

The game began to thrive in the late ’50s, thanks to that perfect intersection of football and television. And Pat Bowlen did as much as anyone to make that relationship between the NFL and TV stronger.

He was instrumental, as the Broncos point out in a lengthy remembrance of his contributions, in the creation and growth of NFL Network, which launched in 2003. Pat Bowlen also had a key role in the stunning 2006 reconfiguration of the league’s broadcast arrangements, which saw Sunday Night Football supplant Monday Night Football as the primary NFL game of the week.

Pat Bowlen, according to former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, was the “single major force in the creation of Sunday Night Football.” And Sunday Night Football has become a juggernaut, finishing as the top-rated show in primetime for an unprecedented eight straight years, thanks in large part to the flex option that Pat Bowlen helped create.

Ultimately, football is a business — and Pat Bowlen was keenly aware of business dynamics when it came to getting people to choose football over other sports.

“It’s about the connection with the fan,” Bowlen once said. “There’s a lot of competition in [the market] for the sports dollar. I, and this organization, we are very cognizant of that.”

All fans should be cognizant of what Bowlen did to make the NFL into what it now is.