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John Elway, Peyton Manning reportedly competing for record-setting Denver Broncos sale

Matt Johnson
Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning, John Elway
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

John Elway brought Peyton Manning in as the Denver Broncos quarterback in 2012, changing the course of NFL history and resulting in a Super Bowl title. Fast forward to 2022 and the Hall of Fame quarterbacks will likely be competing against one another in the Broncos’ ownership sale.

A family battle to become the Broncos’ controlling owner ended this month by the order of Denver District Court Judge Shelley Gilman. The ruling stemmed from a legal fight after late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen left control of the team to a trust in 2014 before passing away five years later. 

Bowlen established in 1984 that an outside group would have the right of first refusal to purchase the Broncos. On Tuesday, Judge Gilman sided with the franchise and opened the door for an outside entity to purchase the team for Bowlen’s appointed trustees.

With the stage set for a massive bidding war as billionaires position themselves to make the best offer for a piece of the NFL, a new development could make things even more interesting.

According to the Denver Gazette‘s Woody Paige, Elway and Manning will be a part of two separate groups bidding for the franchise. It’s currently believed that there are six candidates to submit an offer for the Denver Broncos.

A sale isn’t imminent, with detailed financial proposals taking months to prepare and any sale needing majority support from NFL owners, but a record-setting deal is expected in 2022.

How much will the Denver Broncos sell for?

NFL: Denver Broncos-Training Camp
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2021 season, Forbes estimated the Broncos net worth at $3.75 billion. The valuation makes them the 10th-most valuable franchise in the NFL and the third-highest in the AFC.

A sale of the franchise at the current valuation would easily surpass the NFL record. David Tepper purchased the Carolina Panthers for $2.275 million in 2018, the highest sale price for a team in league history. But even Forbes’ estimate likely undersells the total the Pat Bowlen Trust could receive from bidders.

In an interview on The Pat McAfee Show, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the Denver Broncos will probably be sold for $4-plus billion. It’s an extremely competitive field with billionaires looking to become part of a business that just signed television contracts worth $100-plus billion and generated record-setting revenue in 2021.

“It is going to be, I’m telling you, the most competitive purchase we’ve seen in a long time.”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on looming Denver Broncos ownership sale, via The Pat McAfee Show

While the highest bidder will likely be selected by Bowlen’s trust, the NFL will also want to thoroughly vet who takes over before a deal is finalized. With that in mind, any group Manning is a part of could have a significant advantage if their proposal makes it to NFL owners.

As for Jeff Bezos as a potential buyer, reporting in October indicated he isn’t interested in the Broncos.