Pat Bowlen, one of the most iconic owners in NFL history who helped guide the Broncos to six Super Bowl appearances and two world championships in his 30 years as owner, is relinquishing control of the team as he acknowledges he is dealing with Alzheimer's disease.

Team president Joe Ellis will assume control of the Broncos as Bowlen focuses on his health.

"It's a really, really sad day," Ellis said. "It's sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It's sad for everyone in the organization. And it's sad for all the Bronco fans who know what Pat Bowlen meant to them as an owner. It's a day nobody wanted to see happen."

Bowlen, 70, has placed his Broncos' ownership in the Pat Bowlen Trust that is controlled by non-family members. Final-say authority with the team is held by Ellis.

Bowlen's long-term goal is for one of his seven children to run the team when they're ready. To be clear, the Broncos will not be put up for sale.

A statement by the Broncos to The Denver Post said the trust was set up by Bowlen more than a decade ago as part of his long-stated desire to keep team ownership in his family.

Bowlen had first revealed to The Denver Post in May 2009 that he was experiencing short-term memory loss. Bowlen, his family and the team on Tuesday acknowledged for the first time that his condition had developed into Alzheimer's, a brain condition that worsens as it progresses and currently has no cure.

"As many in the Denver community and around the National Football League have speculated, my husband, Pat, has very bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer's disease for the last few years," Annabel Bowlen said in a statement. "He has elected to keep his condition private because he has strongly believed, and often said, 'It's not about me.'

"Pat has always wanted the focus to be solely on the Denver Broncos and the great fans who have supported this team with such passion during his 30 years as owner. My family is deeply saddened that Pat's health no longer allows him to oversee the Broncos, which has led to this public acknowledgment of such a personal health condition."

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease and it is the sixth-leading cause of death. Bowlen lost his mother, Arvella, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's, in 2006.