The annual Gay Bowl will return to Denver next week with the support of the Denver Broncos. The National Gay Flag Football League has told Outsports that the Broncos are supporting Gay Bowl as a local community improvement event, and that the team’s foundation is providing financial support for the event.

“To have the Broncos on board helps to build credibility as we work on creating impact and change within the community around gay athletes in sports,” NGFFL commissioner Thurman Williams told Outsports. “As we continue to expand our league and our footprint across the country it helps us to create the credibility we need to make that happen as well.”

Last year the New England Patriots contributed financially to the Gay Bowl being hosted in Boston. Team owner Robert Kraft also attended the event’s closing party and gave a brief speech thanking attendees for their contributions to advancing inclusion in sports.

In addition to financial support, the Broncos have contributed resources including an introduction to the local Special Olympics, which will be part of Gay Bowl this year. From the NGFFL press release:

As part of Gay Bowl XVIII, the DGLFFL has partnered with the Denver region of Special Olympics to host a special game on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 12:30 p.m. The Spectrum Skyhawks — the top Unified team from Denver’s Special Olympics — will join in play with a combination of players from the NGFFL cities and leagues, who are legends of the game.

Gay Bowl XVIII will feature 57 teams from 22 cities from Atlanta to Honolulu. Last year the New York Warriors won their fourth Gay Bowl title by beating the five-time defending champion San Diego Bolts. Mile High Club Blue will defend their women’s title at home this year. A team from Denver has won every women’s championship since the women’s event was founded in 2012.

The Broncos host the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 16, the last day of the tournament.

Congratulations to everyone associated with this year’s Gay Bowl on expanding the scope and vision of the event. As two of the founders of the event, it makes Jim Buzinski and me smile to see the event evolving so beautifully.