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Bowlen promises Broncos fans he'll restore team's integrity

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Pat Bowlen says in a letter to season-ticket holders that last season was his most difficult in more than a quarter-century as owner of the Denver Broncos, and he pledges to restore integrity and a winning culture to a franchise rocked by problems on and off the field.

The letter was part of the ticket-renewal packet that began arriving Tuesday.

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In his most extensive comments about the troubles that besieged his team last season, Bowlen wrote that last year "was the most trying for me in 27 years of ownership" and pledged to "restore the culture of winning, trust and integrity" to the organization.

The Broncos were rocked by an embarrassing videotaping scandal and a historic slide, which led to coach Josh McDaniels' firing Dec. 6. After a franchise-worst 4-12 season, John Elway rejoined the team as its chief football executive, and he hired John Fox as coach.

"You deserve more from this franchise than what we saw in 2010, and you have my word that I will restore the culture of winning, trust and integrity within the Broncos," Bowlen wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press. "There is a Bronco Way that exists, and it entails success on the field, honoring tradition and maintaining the highest level of character.

"We are committed to embracing those qualities and others that have made the Denver Broncos one of the most successful in all of professional sports. I pledge to you that we will exceed your expectations going forward and put the right people in place to lead this team, beginning with the addition of John Elway."

Bowlen concluded by saying his new management team -- the letter was written before Fox's hiring -- "will recognize and understand the special bond the Broncos have with their fans. It is something that none of us will ever take for granted."

The Broncos have made a concerted effort to reconnect with their fan base following McDaniels' ouster. They are active on Twitter, even announcing McDaniels' firing and Fox's hiring on the social media microsite, the openness in stark contrast to the secretive policies the aloof McDaniels employed in his 22 months on the job.

McDaniels, who was hired Tuesday as the St. Louis Rams' offensive coordinator, was fired by the Broncos less than halfway through his four-year contract. He lost 17 of his last 22 games, which led to empty seats at Invesco Field, and left the franchise red-faced after failing to turn in his videographer, Steve Scarnecchia, for breaking NFL rules by taping a portion of the San Francisco 49ers' walkthrough in London last October.

McDaniels' series of personnel blunders left the Broncos in need of a major makeover and just a half-dozen picks in the upcoming draft to start the rebuilding project.

Among his questionable moves: trading away Jay Cutler, who leads the Chicago Bears into the NFC Championship Game this weekend. McDaniels also traded a bevy of draft picks for former New England Patriots who were past their prime, including running back Laurence Maroney for a fourth-rounder in 2010.

Maroney, who didn't play in Denver's last 10 games and whose contract is up, was arrested Monday night on guns and drug charges in his native St. Louis. He says he did nothing wrong.

Other Broncos were in legal trouble last season. Linebacker D.J. Williams was stripped of his captaincy after his second drunken-driving arrest, cornerback Perrish Cox faces charges in a sexual-assault case and rookie linebacker Kevin Alexander was waived hours after his arrest on a domestic-violence call last month.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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