Even without his presence, Pat Bowlen remained present Wednesday as the Broncos held their annual training camp media barbecue. Bowlen stepped down as owner Wednesday, focusing on his battle with Alzheimer's disease, leaving an unmistakable void.

General manager John Elway, who has known Bowlen for three decades, fought his emotions, pausing for several seconds as he discussed the team's transition without their successful leader.

"It's a sad, sad day. From the inside out, it will never be the same here," Elway said.

Bowlen ceded much of the daily operations to team president Joe Ellis over the last few seasons. However, Bowlen will no longer occupy his days at the team's Dove Valley headquarters. It was expected, but remains jarring nonetheless.

"He has given me so much. It's going to be hard to walk through those doors and not see him," Elway said.

Bowlen, 70, has placed his Broncos' ownership in the Pat Bowlen Trust. His desire is for one of his seven children "to earn the right to run the franchise someday," Ellis said. Bowlen ranks as one of the top owners in pro sports with Ellis, Elway and coach John Fox all stressing that Bowlen "absolutely" belongs in the Hall of Fame. Elway said his preference is for Bowlen's bust to be next to his in Canton, Ohio.