Emotional John Elway on Pat Bowlen resignation: Broncos "will never be the same"

Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway and Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, left, gather for a photo during an NFL football news conference at the team's headquarters Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, in Englewood, Colo., where Elway was named the team's executive vice president of football operations. (AP Photo/ Ed Andrieski)
Ed Andrieski, AP

Professional football stars rarely show any vulnerability or raw emotion, but John Elway did just that after Pat Bowlen announced his resignation as Denver Broncos owner. It was a sign of how much Bowlen means not only to Elway, but to the rest of the NFL, CBS News correspondent Vinita Nair reports.

Words could hardly express how Elway felt about Pat Bowlen.

"What a sad day it is around here," Elway said. "This place will never be the same."

Elway, a lifelong Bronco, won two Super Bowls as the team's quarterback. He is now their executive vice president and general manager.

"Having worked for him for 30 years, it's uh, going to be very hard to not see him walk through the front doors every day," Elway said.

Under Bowlen's leadership, the Broncos won more than 300 games, six AFC championships, and two Super Bowls.

Elway was the quarterback for much of that success, forever linking the two men in franchise history.

Elway remembered this moment during Super Bowl 32 as one of the highlights of his storied career:

"There's one thing I want to say here tonight, and it's only four words: this one's for John!" Bowlen said after the team won Super Bowl XXXII.

John Elway celebrating his Super Bowl XXXII win AP

"It was a surprise to me when he said that, but it was probably the most humbling, thrilled feeling I've ever had in my life," Elway said.

Bowlen is known as a private man who always put the team first. In 2009, he handed day-to-day operations to Broncos president Joe Ellis after disclosing he suffered from short-term memory loss. Bowlen's wife Annabel said he has been quietly battling Alzheimer's 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 said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Ellis assumed full control of the Broncos.

"We'll do right by him, and in turn, he would tell us, 'you do right by the fans, and you do right by this community, and you do right by the national football league,'" Ellis said.

Ownership of the franchise is held in a trust set up by Pat Bowlen, with the hope that one of his children will eventually take over. Today is the first day of Broncos training camp, but it's fair to say most people in the organization will still be thinking of Bowlen and his family.