Broncos owners focused on winning and holding themselves accountable

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Excitement assailed the senses on Wednesday. There was a palpable mood of change reverberating through the UCHealth training facility.

A new era began when the Walton-Penner ownership group arrived, spoke with the team, watched practice, and then met the media.

The story moved forward when Rob Walton named his son-in-law Greg Penner as CEO, and Condoleezza Rice and Melody Hobson shared how honored they felt to be part of this group. It’s a powerhouse of six of Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner, Greg Penner, Rice, Hobson and Sir Lewis Hamilton who will function as a de facto board.

The pieces of the puzzle – except for the appointment of a team president – ​​are in place. Now comes the hardest part, turning a vision of success into reality.

“The big vision is that we want to win football championships. We want to do it the right way. The first place you have to start is with people, and on the football side, we couldn’t be more excited about that. that we have with (general manager) George (Paton), (coach) Nathaniel (Hackett) and Russell (Wilson) in place. Those are the first pieces. Then it’s a process that I mentioned, which is, now that you have the people, now you have to have very high expectations of ourselves. We have to make sure that we have the resources, and that’s done in different ways to support them. Then we have to hold ourselves accountable.” said Penner, the only member of the group to answer questions.

“That’s where it gets a bit tricky. If you lose a game, that doesn’t mean we have to make a bunch of rash decisions in the short term. There’s a good dose of patience, but we hold ourselves accountable. .”

Penner remains Walmart’s chairman of the board. He insists he will have enough time to devote to the Broncos. However, he will appoint a team president. Will this person come from the sports world? Maybe.

“I think sporting experience is really important. Is it absolutely essential? I would probably say no, but it would raise the bar for finding the right fit. We start with general characteristics. We want someone who is really very (involved in) charity, great values, great leadership, diverse set of experiences. Someone who aligns with our values ​​as partners here,” Penner said.

“We can find someone good.”

How about Peyton Manning or John Elway? Both attended Wednesday’s practice, fueling speculation about their future with the franchise. At one point, Manning spoke with the ownership group for several minutes. Penner said there are no plans to add to the ownership group, although they can lean on Manning and Elway for advice.

“We’re in a great position to have two great Broncos, they were both here today, and it was fantastic spending time with them. John Elway is the ultimate Bronco. He’s won championships as a as a player and an executive. I had the chance to visit him and I look forward to learning as much as I can from him,” Penner said. “Peyton is one of the greatest NFL players of all time. – obviously he won a championship here. We also had the chance to know him throughout the process. We’ll just learn from them both. I think it’s going to be a very good relationship.

Members of new Broncos ownership group arrive in Denver

What about the Broncos’ potential third Hall of Famer? Given the contracts awarded to Aaron Rodgers and Kyle Murray, Wilson could be in line for an extension in the range of $250-300 million, with most, if not all, guaranteed.

Penner spoke enthusiastically about Wilson, but appeared to dismiss contract talks out of hand.

“First of all, we couldn’t have been more excited as we went through the process to see that the organization made the trade for Russell. Having a great quarterback is essential in this league. And coming to this organization with Russell in place is a huge plus for us On our first stagecoach trip in May here, one of the first people we met in the hallway when Rob, Carrie and I were here was Russell Right away we got an idea of ​​how positive he is as a leader. He’s such a dynamic person,” Penner said.

“I can’t wait to see him on the pitch. I don’t know how many we’ll see him on the pitch on Saturday, but we can’t wait. At this stage, nothing to say about his contract.”

Each of the members made opening statements to the media on Wednesday. For Rice, the connection to the Broncos remains difficult to understand. She spent part of her youth in Denver and became a Broncos fan.

“The first is you have to understand how much I love football. My dad was a football coach when I was born. I was supposed to be his All-American linebacker. When he had a girl, he decided to teach her the sport. Even though my father went to the Lord, I have to think that today he thinks, “She finally got a very important job,” said Rice, who hopes to attend several games this season. between his work at Stanford.

“I also want to say it’s great to be back in Denver. I first came to Denver when I was 6 years old when my family came here for my parents to go to college. We moved back here when I was 12. I was taught by the Loretta Sisters at Saint Mary’s Academy and the University of Denver, twice, for my undergraduate degree and my doctorate. period everyone who lived here had to I know the Broncos are part of that community I’m part of the “Orange Crush” generation where you would go to any grocery store or any restaurant and there was all those stacked cans of Orange Crush.

Hobson brings leadership, resilience and tenacity to his involvement. A powerful businesswoman, she can relate to those who wear the uniform.

“I also want to recognize the connection I feel with players who, like me, have had to overcome a lot in their life. I know the amount of focus and discipline it took to get here. I know also all the people – the family at home, the community that they are responsible for – and that they really understand how much this community wants to see them earn and how much they want to earn for this community,” said Hobson, who is close in Hamilton, seeing him as a little brother, and worked to involve him in the ownership group.

“I feel a connection with them, and I’m really, really happy to be part of the organization to be with them.”

The CVs of this group are breathtaking. But sports are different from business or academics. The pressure is enormous. Penner plans to trust those on the football side. Providing resources and expecting excellence were hallmarks of Pat Bowlen’s Hall of Fame leadership.

“We are big believers – every owner should carve out their own territory here. We strongly believe in empowering people. We love football. As Condi said, her dad was a coach. She knows football, but we We’re not going to call games. We’re not going to select players. We’re going to empower this team – led by George Paton and Nathaniel Hackett – to make those key decisions,” Penner said. “Obviously , part of that fun is learning and understanding and all that, but they’re going to make the decisions about the football.”

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