Bowlen: ‘This is probably as tough as it gets’

Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen made his first public comments since firing longtime coach Mike Shanahan at a press conference in Denver on Tuesday. Bowlen said a number of factors went into his decision to fire Shanahan — the longest tenured coach in team history and the second-longest tenured coach in the NFL — but his decision was based on the feeling that it was time for the organization to move on.

“I’m an owner,” said Bowlen. “This is what I do. I’m here every day and I have to do my job. It’s difficult to explain to anyone in this room. This was my instinct. I may end up regretting this decision, but right now I’m very comfortable in this decision that we have to go a different direction.”

Clearly, the act of firing Shanahan and holding today’s press conference were difficult for Bowlen, who spoke often about their close relationship. At one point, he fought back tears when talking about the difficulty in the process. He was asked if it’s the most difficult decision he’s ever had to make with the Broncos.

“Probably. In 25 years, this is probably as tough as it gets,” he said. “It was a tough decision. I don’t think I was dreading it. I know I have to make some decisions for this organization I don’t like. This was at the top of the list.”

Here are some other notable points that came out of Wednesday’s press conference:

  • Bowlen said he did not ask Shanahan to make any changes to his coaching staff before he was dismissed.
  • Bowlen has not “given any consideration whatsoever to who will be the next coach,” saying the process has not yet started. He said he will consider both college and pro coaches.
  • No other changes to the front office have been made. VP of football operations/player personnel Jim Goodman is still in place.
  • If asked, Bowlen would give Shanahan the highest recommendations for his next position. He said he wouldn’t have a problem with Shanahan landing in the AFC West, but “I wouldn’t be too happy if he went to Kansas City.” The Chiefs currently do not have an opening, but with the resignation of GM Carl Peterson and with Kansas City coming off a poor season, coach Herm Edwards is thought to be on shaky ground.
  • Bowlen believes Shanahan still wants to coach: “I think Mike still wants to coach, and I think he’ll be more comfortable coaching in a different organization. This will be the best for both of us.” Shanahan, following Bowlen at the press conference, confirmed his desire to coach again, but wanted to take a couple of weeks to weigh his options.
  • Bowlen thought Shanahan — who wore the hats of both coach and GM — did both jobs well, but he doesn’t anticipate the next person will handle both duties. He said he hasn’t thought about whether he’ll hire a GM first.
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