DENVER-The National Football League is taking offense at a broker’s sign that uses the word “Broncos.”

John Hanlon, a broker with Denver-based Coldwell Banker American Spectrum, has planted a sign with the word “Broncos” on an acre site he is selling for $650,000, about a mile from the Denver Broncos’ headquarters and training facility in the Dove Valley development area in Arapahoe County.

Hanlon, a 20-year veteran of commercial real estate sales, believes the site is perfect for a sports bar because of its proximity to the Broncos headquarters. Also, 46,000 cars drive by it every day. He has surveyed 1,500 employees at a nearby Oppenheimer Funds call center, and a sports bar in the area is their No. 1 choice.

Hanlon tells he doesn’t envision calling the future bar “The Broncos Sports Bar,” but thinks it would be a great place for pre- and post-game celebrations.

The NFL accuses Hanlon of infringing on the trademark and has given him until Dec. 26 to take it down. “Specifically, we object to your use of the NFL Trademarks including, but not limited to, the mark BRONCOS in connection with your company’s attempt to sell a property,” the NFL said in the first of two letters sent to Hanlon. “A sign has been placed on that property stating ‘WANTED BRONCOS SPORTS BAR’ in the Broncos’ orange and blue color. While we have no objection to your advertising the property as a location for a sports bar, using the Broncos’ name and colors gives the false impression that the bar is or can be affiliated with the Broncos. This use of the NFL trademarks is precisely the type of commercial use that requires licensing from the National Football League Properties Inc., because it unfairly capitalizes on the goodwill and reputation embodies in the NFL trademarks.’”

Hanlon disagrees. He says he’s only a fan who wants to sell the land. He says if he had incorporated the NFL or the Broncos logo on the sign, he believes they would have cause to complain. “It’s a First Amendment issue with me,” Hanlon told “I have a Constitutional right to free speech. They don’t think they own they own the word Broncos.”

Coldwell Banker is turning the matter over to their attorneys. Hanlon says he will do whatever they tell him to do. But he says he believes two things–the first, that he doesn’t think he did anything wrong. And the second, is that no matter what the outcome, he’ll continue cheering for the Broncos.

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