A week or so after back to back news stories about two Denver Broncos’ executives, Matt Russell and Tom Heckert, being arrested on DUI charges, penalties have been handed down by the organization. In an official press release, Russell received the more severe of the penalties; indefinite suspension without pay. Heckert received one month without pay. These penalties do not correspond with any which may still be handed down by the NFL and will begin today.
Owner Pat Bowlen’s two highest ranking deputies, president Joe Ellis and executive vice president of football operations, John Elway seemed to take on good cop, bad cop assignments. Ellis had this to say:
This morning, we informed both Matt and Tom of the discipline as well as our expectations of them going forward. While they will be punished and held accountable, our first priority is their health and well-being. We must ensure they receive any care they need and support them however possible.
Although they have expressed great remorse, this in no way excuses their conduct. The decisions they made away from the workplace undermined the integrity of our organization and the NFL as well as the values instilled by Pat Bowlen during his ownership. – Joe Ellis
Elway took a more stern stance:
When I was named to this position two years ago, I spoke of the role this organization has in the community. We all have an individual responsibility to represent this team in the appropriate manner at all times.
It’s particularly disappointing that two members of my staff acted so irresponsibly. Simply put, it’s unacceptable and inexcusable. – John Elway
While the business of damage control for the organization and preserving the Broncos’ good reputation is paramount for Ellis and Elway, there were clear indications that the two were concerned with the well-being of both Russell and Heckert.
This is no doubt a black eye for the team but it is also an opportunity to use this to not only help the two execs, but for them to use this as a tool to help educate the community about the detriments of drinking and driving. Let us hope that this episode is turned into a positive.