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Friday, August 28, 2009
Too Short For A Column

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The Denver Broncos' Pat Bowlen used to be one of the cleverest owners in sports. But now he's being undercut by an insidious opponent -- himself.

Bowlen, 65, admitted recently that he has "short-term memory loss." There are whole parts of the Broncos' Super Bowl seasons he says he can't recall.

Bowlen still insists Jay Cutler never called him back during McJay Gate this winter, which left him "no choice" but to trade a dead-lock Pro Bowl 26-year-old quarterback for Kyle Orton and draft choices.

But I've now got it from three different sources -- who choose to remain unidentified -- that Cutler did call Bowlen back.

"Jay called him twice," said one source. "It's unbelievable it came to this."

Is it possible Bowlen forgot?

People close to the team are starting to wonder how much the memory loss is affecting Bowlen's decision making. Disgrunted wide receiver Brandon Marshall says Bowlen promised him in June that he'd trade him. Yet Marshall remains untraded and unhappy.

They're also noticing that more and more of the final decisions have come down to Chief Operating Officer Joe Ellis, a cousin of George W. Bush, who is not a football guy and definitely not a Cutler fan. If you recall, Ellis alone made the trip out to Boston to have a second conversation with the Broncos' highly suspect new 33-year-old head coach, Josh McDaniels.

And how's this for weird: Bowlen admitted in May that he still hadn't spoken to the coach he fired, Mike Shanahan. Those two used to be the best of friends. Not even a phone call? Is Bowlen sure?

These and other curious goings-on have left the team with slim hopes and two Salvation Army QBs -- Kyle Orton and Chris Simms. Letting Cutler go will cost the franchise for years to come. This season, the general Las Vegas over/under on Broncos wins is seven. They'll be lucky to get six.

Making a lot of Denver fans will wish they could forget, too.

See all of Rick Reilly's Too Short for a Column More random mind dumps from the brain of Rick Reilly. Go fish! Be sure to check out Rick's Life of Reilly