"My deepest sympathies go out to the entire Bowlen family," he began. "I met Mr. Bowlen for the first time when I played for the Indianapolis Colts and I was over in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl when he was also there at his Hawaiian home. I saw him several times throughout the years and had short, brief conversations with him that I really enjoyed.
"Coming to play here for Denver, even though his health was declining, I did enjoy a couple of conversations with Mr. Bowlen. In my first year in 2012, I was here a lot in the offseason. As soon as I signed with the Broncos, I was basically living at the facility - studying film, rehabbing and working out. I was usually one of the last to leave the facility during that time. I say, 'I thought I was the last to leave,' but Mr. Bowlen was still there. He'd usually be in the training room on the elliptical, and I would go in there and have conversations with him. He was asking me if we found a place to live yet, and I remember once I told him we found a place to live, he told me he used to live right near there, and we talked a little about that. Just short, brief conversations, and I enjoyed that time with him."
Bowlen died Friday morning at the age of 75. He battled Alzheimer's disease in his later years, which forced him to step down as Broncos CEO in 2014.
Manning played for the Broncos from 2012-15, steering the franchise to two Super Bowl appearances and a championship. Denver captured three titles during Bowlen's reign.
"It was an honor to play for Mr. Bowlen's organizations, as I've said numerous times," Manning said. "I always had great respect for the Denver Broncos during my time playing for the Colts competing against his organization. So much of that credit goes to Pat Bowlen and his desire to be the best and to win. That had a lot to do with signing with the Denver Broncos - that I know Mr. Bowlen was all about winning and I knew the people that he had hired would carry on that tradition and legacy. It was a great decision to come play here - we still live here today. I'm grateful for Mr. Bowlen and the legacy that he's established with the Broncos, in the NFL, and certainly in this Denver community. He will be missed by many. It was an honor to know Mr. Bowlen and a real pleasure to have played for his team - the Denver Broncos.
Several others associated with the Broncos have posted heartfelt messages since Bowlen's death.
Bowlen was recently selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2019 class.