2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Broncos president says apology rings hollow

    2013-07-11 15:29

(Eds: Updates with President Joe Ellis quotes saying apologies for DUI arrests ring hollow; adds details and background. With AP Photos.)
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Denver Broncos coach John Fox gathered his players at midfield last month just before they dispersed for summer vacation and gave them his usual admonition about staying out of trouble.

By all accounts, they have heeded that advice not to embarrass themselves or the organization. But Executive Vice President John Elway's top two assistants haven't.

``Just make good decisions, be smart,'' Fox said that hot June 13 afternoon, a mantra heard across the league as players scattered for some R&R following months of offseason workouts.

One day before, the Broncos brass had learned that Tom Heckert, the former Cleveland Browns general manager, had been charged with drunken driving in nearby Parker just a month after being hired as Denver's director of pro personnel.

The Broncos kept Heckert's June 11 arrest quiet until The Associated Press reported it Tuesday, a day after Broncos director of player personnel Matt Russell, Elway's right-hand man, apologized for his arrest over the weekend on suspicion of driving under the influence stemming from his crash into a police SUV.

The revelation of a second Broncos executive facing DUI charges led the organization to acknowledge a ``disturbing pattern of irresponsible behavior'' that it vowed to clean up.

Neither Heckert, 45, nor Russell, 40, are expected to be fired, but team President Joe Ellis promised severe penalties separate from any legal consequences. The team has been consulting with the NFL about discipline, and it's expected that both men will also undergo treatment for alcohol problems.

The executives' arrests come at a time when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell favors stiffer penalties for first-time drunken drivers and the league has strengthened its ties to MADD - Mothers Against Drunk Driving - which participated in the latest NFL rookie symposium.

Restoring respectability won't come quickly or easily, Ellis said.

``We're not perfect. We've made our errors. We admit. You can say we apologized for it - but I think an apology rings hollow when you run into the back of a police car or you're blowing a blood alcohol limit that's three times the legal limit. I don't think fans, I don't think the public, I don't think anybody wants to hear an apology,'' Ellis told the AP.

``So, I think you have to acknowledge your mistakes and you have to fix them and you have to do that the right way,'' Ellis said. ``There's a lot of things we do. We offer programs, we offer a lot of help, there's a ton of stuff the National Football League makes available to all the teams in an effort for them to avoid this kind of thing. In this case, we had two guys that couldn't do it. And that's just sad. That's too bad. But we're going to move on and our hope is that you won't see this kind of incident from an employee again.''

After Heckert's arrest became public, social media blew up with negative comments directed at the Broncos, many of them critical of the team's decision to keep Heckert's arrest quiet. Former center Tom Nalen, who is going into the team's Ring of Fame this fall, called them cowardly in a tweet, although he later backtracked on his radio show.

Like any other business, the Broncos weren't inclined to publicize a DUI charge facing an employee who wasn't a senior executive.

``Well, we handle those things internally,'' Ellis said. ``When they become external, then we deal with them. But we're not in the business of announcing those kinds of things before they need to be addressed. And we were in consultation with the league all along and in terms of internal communication everybody understood it. Everybody that was involved. Everybody that needed to know.''

The Broncos haven't faced this kind of backlash since the infamous videotape scandal that led to coach Josh McDaniels' ouster three years ago, after which Elway was brought on board to fix the franchise.

In his quest to return the Broncos to the top, Elway hired John Fox, re-signed Champ Bailey and lured Peyton Manning. Wes Welker was the cornerstone of several high-profile additions to an already star-studded roster this offseason. Combine that with a chip on their collective shoulders from last season's playoff pratfall and Denver was the trendy Super Bowl pick this summer.

Elway had the organization positively aglow until this week.

Now, they're sharing headlines with Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots player who is charged with murder, and the mug shots of Heckert and Russell are serving as unfortunate faces of the franchise during this down time before training camp starts in two weeks.

The fallout could very well affect them on the field in 2013. With penalties expected to be handed down soon, the Broncos figure to be without their top two personnel men at a time when player evaluations are paramount.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league is leaving comment on both cases up to the Broncos, and Ellis said he's not allowed to comment on the process for arriving at discipline decisions. He did say, however, that the Broncos are treating each case separately and he has no timeline.

Asked if discipline might be staggered so that the Broncos aren't without both personnel men at the same time, Ellis said, ``I don't think that's part of the equation. I don't worry about that. That's the least of my concerns.''

---

AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton can be reached at astapleton(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Deone BucannonJul 24 11:32a

Arizona Cardinals S Deone Bucannon was not dropped into the starting lineup during offseason workouts, as the team has faith in FS Tony Jefferson and FS Rashad Johnson. He [ More ]

Ray RiceJul 24 11:31a

Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice will be suspended for the first two games of the season, according to sources. The announcement is expected Thursday, July 24.

Blake BortlesJul 24 11:22a

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles' lower-body mechanics likely will be revised. Bortles' flaw has been over-reliance on his right arm when throwing; he doesn't use his legs enough. A [ More ]

Mikel LeshoureJul 24 11:14a

Detroit Lions RB Mikel Leshoure is currently believed to be the fourth tailback on the club behind RBs Reggie Bush, Joique Bell and Theo Riddick heading into training camp [ More ]

Justin BlackmonJul 24 10:53a

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon was arrested for possession of marijuana Wednesday, July 23, in Oklahoma.

Jordan PalmerJul 24 10:52a

Chicago Bears QB Jordan Palmer still has the first shot at winning the backup quarterback job, according to head coach Marc Trestman.

R. Griffin IIIJul 24 10:22a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III's designed running plays might be 'few and far between,' according to head coach Jay Gruden. He still has the green light to scramble [ More ]

Daniel FellsJul 24 09:42a

New York Giants TE Daniel Fells has received the first snap in 11-on-11 drills during the team's two days in training camp. Kellen Davis and Adrien Robinson have [ More ]

Ahmad BradshawJul 24 08:33a

Indianapolis Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) has been cleared to practice. Bradshaw is an RB4, but he could be worth more if Trent Richardson fails to produce again.

Roddy WhiteJul 24 08:33a

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White signed a four-year extension with the team that will keep him under team control for the next five years, according to sources.

Donald ThomasJul 24 08:33a

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (hip) and OG Donald Thomas (quadriceps, biceps) have been cleared to practice.

Josh GordonJul 24 08:23a

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will have his appeal hearing for his one-year suspension Aug. 1.

Greg OlsenJul 24 01:43a

Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen said he is tired of hearing criticism about Carolina's new receiving corps, which is largely made up of journeymen and unproven commodities. Olsen added [ More ]

Aldon SmithJul 24 01:13a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith is expected to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the near future, which likely would lead to a decision on any discipline for Smith.

Anthony BarrJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings LB Anthony Barr was with the team for just a few days during offseason workouts due to NFL rules. Head coach Mike Zimmer is eager to see [ More ]

Sharrif FloydJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings DT Sharrif Floyd had a good offseason, but head coach Mike Zimmer thinks the defensive tackle is trying to be too fine. 'Sharrif has a lot of [ More ]

C. PattersonJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson will remain on kickoff returns despite an expanded role in the offense this season. 'We want our best players to get their hands on [ More ]

Montell OwensJul 23 11:23p

Detroit Lions FB Montell Owens has company, as the team will employ a more traditional fullback in the offense. They signed FB Jed Collins for the role. Owens is [ More ]

Harrison SmithJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings safeties Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo will be battling during training camp and the preseason for the starting job opposite FS Harrison Smith. 'That will be interesting, [ More ]

Matt CasselJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings QBs Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Cassel saw a majority of the snaps during spring workouts, but QB Christian Ponder has a chance to start, and head coach [ More ]

Chad GreenwayJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings LB Chad Greenway could be used as the starting middle linebacker, according to head coach Mike Zimmer. 'It's a possibility. We keep working him in there. We're [ More ]

Troy NiklasJul 23 10:23p

Arizona Cardinals TE Troy Niklas (hand) has been cleared to participate in training camp, and was working Wednesday, July 23.

Dan WilliamsJul 23 10:23p

Arizona Cardinals NT Dan Williams will open training camp as the team's starting nose tackle with NT Alameda Ta'amu (knee) on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list.

Johnny ManzielJul 23 10:23p

Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine thinks QB Johnny Manziel needs to increase dedication to earn the starting job. 'I think he knows that in order to compete well, [ More ]

Theo RiddickJul 23 10:23p

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick has the chance to break into the rotation at tailback, and he has drawn considerable praise from his teammates and coaches for his development [ More ]

Joique BellJul 23 10:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (nee) missed most of the offseason due to a knee injury, although he has said his condition is minor and he expects to be [ More ]

Jed CollinsJul 23 10:23p

The Detroit Lions are re-incorporating the traditional fullback into their new offensive scheme this season, and that's why they went out and signed FB Jed Collins.

Cheta OzougwuJul 23 07:23p

New Orleans Saints DE Cheta Ozougwu (undisclosed) cleared waivers and was transferred to the Saints' Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, July 23.

Billy WinnJul 23 06:53p

The Cleveland Browns placed OL Chris Faulk (undisclosed), DE Billy Winn (undisclosed) and LB Tank Carder (undisclosed) on the non-football injury list Wednesday, July 23.

Kyle OrtonJul 23 06:33p

Free-agent QB Kyle Orton (Cowboys) does not want to retire and wants to play in 2014, according to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Conner VernonJul 23 06:23p

The Cleveland Browns placed CB Royce Adams, LB Brandon Magee and WR Conner Vernon on the no-recall waivers list Wednesday, July 23.

Terrance WestJul 23 06:23p

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West (undisclosed) said on his Twitter page that he passed his conditioning test and people need to 'stop making up your [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group