John Elway pays respects to mentor, friend Pat Bowlen

John Elway and Pat Bowlen were one of the most iconic QB-owner pairings in NFL history.

Bowlen, along with his siblings, bought the Broncos franchise in 1984 — a year after Denver made the league-altering trade with the then-Baltimore Colts to acquire Elway. The two then proceeded to combine for five Super Bowl appearances and two championships during Elway’s Hall of Fame career on the field, and then added an addition Super Bowl title in 2015 when Elway oversaw the team as an exec.

Bowlen died Thursday at age 75 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, three years after that last title, and three years after Elway dedicated the win to his longtime friend and mentor by declaring “This one’s for Pat!”

Elway paid his respects to Bowlen Friday.

“Pat gave me so much and he was someone that I always looked up to,” Elway said in a statement Friday morning. “He gave this team everything we needed to be the best and compete for championships, and the focus was always on football. That’s all you can ask for in an owner — yet he did more. He was a tremendous mentor to me and a tremendous friend. Pat was a great listener, always asking what was going on, and I learned so much from watching him. He was a terrific leader. Whether things were going right or things weren’t going right, he would always let you know what we needed to get better.

“He did a great job of applying pressure at the right times but always trusted his football people to make the right decisions. Other than his family, nothing meant more to Pat than making sure the Denver Broncos were successful. What he did for this team, this city and the entire NFL will never be matched. His shoes will never be filled.

“I will miss Pat greatly and will always treasure the times we had together. We’ll continue to take care of his team as if he were here today. My deepest sympathies are with Annabel and the entire Bowlen family.”

Bowlen will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the 2019 class this August in Canton, Ohio.

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