By Todd Baker
With training camp scheduled to begin July 24, it is sad to think that the biggest story lines for the Denver Broncos are that director of player personnel Matt Russell and director of pro personnel Tom Heckert were arrested for DUI’s. After a very strong offseason and what should be considered another successful draft by the Elway regime, here we are continuing to discuss the criminal behavior that seems to plague the NFL. Sadly, it has now impacted the Broncos.
The arrest of Aaron Hernandez was probably the biggest story of this offseason and it should have been. These incidents involving some of the men at the top of the Bronco origanization however illustrate that bad judgement (an understatement I know) isn’t relegated to players. Obviously, in the case of Hernandez, the Patriots actions made a lot of sense both from a P.R. standpoint and a practical one. It looks highly unlikely Hernandez will be playing anytime soon and with the charges as unbelievably damning as they are the team truly couldn’t have kept him around.
However, in the case of the Broncos, there seems to be a possibility that these two execs might keep their jobs. Sure, they may receive suspensions but essential they could retain their employment. These are just the rumors that seem to be floating around a day before the team is scheduled to meet and dole out the actual decision.
Following the announcements of the arrests, Broncos president Joe Ellis stated that the two executives apologies seemed “hollow” but apologies have become somewhat of a media formality across all sports. Sports executives are not actors. These individuals are most likely sorry for any number of reasons; embarrassment, the possibility of losing their jobs, the effects the arrest might have on their friends and family, etc. To suppose they are not sorry doesn’t make sense. They have everything to lose.
The bigger issue is (sorry or not) will these execs be allowed to stay? I hope not. Drunk driving kills thousands of people every year. Perhaps, it is a stretch to connect what these esecutives did with Aaron Hernadez, for example, but they could very well have killed someone as a direct result of their actions. Matt Russell did injure someone with his. That’s not murder but it is inexcusable.
As a Denver Bronco lover, I’m rooting for the organization to do the right thing! In the summer of Aaron Hernandez, with a chance at a title so very possible, the Broncos should get as far away from these incidents as possible. Some will talk about rehabilatation. Rehabilatation is important, but it will also be provided by the state as it always is in incidences like these. In a league plagued by criminal behavior, where young men are asked to put their lives on the line and grow up fast, those responsible for them should be treated with zero tolerance when it comes to reckless, dangerous and criminal behavior. What sort of lesson are we trying to teach and what can we expect of players if we allow second chances to the leaders of NFL organizations in the matter of offenses that are this egregious?