SBD/July 11, 2013/Franchises

No Timetable Set On Punishment For Arrested Broncos Personnel Execs

Heckert's punishment could include a 30-day suspension or $100,000 fine
Following the recent DUI charges brought against Broncos Pro Personnel Dir Tom Heckert and Player Personnel Dir Matt Russell, the team is "not providing a timetable" for when they will be disciplined, "but it may take up to a week," according to Mike Klis of the DENVER POST. Broncos Exec Dir of Media Relations Patrick Smyth yesterday said, "This is bigger than football. It's obviously very serious. We need to make sure we handle this the right way and give careful consideration to all of the issues involved. That process takes time." Klis notes Heckert on June 12 "blew a 0.162 on a breath test" and might "receive penalties similar to the 30-day suspension and $100,000 fine the league imposed" on Lions President Tom Lewand in '10 for his driving while impaired conviction. Russell's punishment "figures to be more severe." He was "arrested Saturday evening in Summit County after he rammed his Toyota Tundra truck into a parked Breckenridge Police Department patrol vehicle at approximately" 40 mph. Russell's "breath alcohol content measured at 0.246" (DENVER POST, 7/11). ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Broncos spent yesterday morning "on the phone with the NFL discussing the process for discipline." The team likely is going to "step in, and before the league can even act, they're going to send a loud, unmistakable and aggressive message that they are not going to tolerate this type of behavior." Schefter: "It will not be a surprise ... if it winds up being lengthy suspensions for each of the front office executives" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/10). KCKK-AM's Peter Burns reported the Broncos' "first reaction was not to fire either man," but the team "will want to do something so the league doesn't dictate to them what the punishment is going to be" ("The Press Box," DENVERPOST.com, 7/10).

TEAM SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE EARLIER: ESPN Radio 102.3 Denver's Tom Nalen, who played for the Broncos from '94-'07, said he was upset with the Broncos because they "waited so long" about making a statement on Heckert's DUI. Nalen said, "Maybe on June 12 if they had come down with something stern with Tom Heckert, maybe Matt Russell's weekend last weekend is different and maybe the team is not embarrassed the way they are right now. I just feel like they could have handled it a different way." Nalen has publicly called Broncos execs "cowards" for not reacting more quickly to Heckert's arrest, and he said, "I felt like they could have done something. They could have turned a negative into a positive with Tom Heckert, and the 'coward' part is because of the words they're using right now, how they're going to be proactive and do all these wonderful things now. Well, why not on June 12 were you being proactive with it? Why did it take two guys to get to this point?" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 7/10).

ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER: ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said that the lack of attention given to the Broncos' DUIs is a "little surprising,” as if Exec VP/Football Operations John Elway had been arrested instead, it "would’ve gotten plenty of attention." Le Batard: "But this happens all the time in sports. We’re not penalizing the crime, we’re penalizing how famous you are.” ESPN's Bomani Jones said, “If you had two players on one team get DUIs, you’d have a discussion about the culture, you’d have a discussion about how these guys think that they're above the law. But if they think that they're above the law, what about the guys that could put them on the street and send them into unemployment with a phone call?” ("Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 7/10).

SUPER BOWL OR BUST: In Colorado Springs, Paul Klee notes most people can agree the charges against Russell and Heckert "demand punishment," but he writes, "Be honest, though. What you really want to know is how this affects the Broncos' chase for a Super Bowl, right?" Touchdowns and tackles "trump all," which is why it would be a "surprise if the Broncos slam Heckert and Russell with simultaneous suspensions during a critical time of roster development, training camp." That would "remove a pair of key decision-makers from the meeting room at the same time a Super Bowl-caliber roster is being fine-tuned" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 7/11).

NFL'S BAD OFFSEASON MAKING LATE-NIGHT SHOW: The number of NFL players and execs arrested during the offseason has become a recurring theme in Jay Leno's monologue on NBC's "The Tonight Show." Leno last night said, "I’ve been watching that new TV series about pro football called ‘CSI: NFL.’ If kids want to know what it’s like to be in the NFL now they don’t play John Madden football anymore, they play ‘Grand Theft Auto’” (NBC, 7/10). Leno Tuesday night said, "A new report form sociologists has discovered that the No. 1 cause of prison overcrowding: The NFL. Thirty-two NFL players have been arrested since the Super Bowl. Given how bad it’s gotten, now when a team says they’ve hired a new defensive coordinator, they're talking about a lawyer" (NBC, 7/9). He started off the week by saying Monday night, "Thirty one NFL players have been arrested just since the Super Bowl. Isn't that amazing? Here's how bad it's gotten: Marshals now have the first pick of the next NFL Draft. It has gotten so bad at most NFL training camps now, they practice walking backwards with their hands behind them. In fact, a lot of teams are switching to the no-huddle offense because players aren't allowed to associate with known felons. You know the show ‘Cops?’ It is now on the NFL Network” (NBC, 7/8).
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