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Ex-Broncos owner loses appeal in buyback bid

DENVER (Aug. 1, 2006) -- A federal appeals court dealt a setback to a former Denver Broncos owner's efforts to regain a portion of the franchise, ruling that an offer to sell John Elway a portion of the team doesn't violate a provision in the sales contract.

Edward Kaiser Jr. sold his 60.8 percent share in the team to Pat Bowlen in 1984 and sued in 1998 after Bowlen offered Elway a portion of the team. Kaiser has contended in several court cases that Bowlen triggered a buyback provision in their sales contract that would have allowed Kaiser the right of first refusal when it comes to selling a portion of the team.

A U.S. District Court jury in 2004 ruled that Bowlen violated the contract when he offered Elway 10 percent of the team for $15 million.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ruled that Kaiser should be able to buy 10 percent of the team back for the same price. Bowlen also would have the right to buy the stake back after two years under Matsch's ruling for far less than what a 10 percent stake in the team would be worth.

Both sides appealed that decision.

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the way the Elway offer was structured -- 10 percent of shares in a company that held ownership of the team, not the team itself -- was not covered by the provisions of the contract covering Kaiser's sale to Bowlen.

"We are not in the business of rewriting or supplementing agreements for parties after a contract is joined," the panel wrote in rejecting Kaiser's claims.

It was unclear what steps Kaiser's attorney, Stephen Long, would take. Messages left after business hours were not immediately returned.

Any change in franchise ownership would have to be approved by three-fourths of the NFL owners.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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