A Scarlet Letter You Can’t Remove


By: Joe Medina

In just under two years, the Denver Broncos and anyone rooting for the team have come under some kind of adversity.  

From an organizational standpoint, the Broncos have been the center of many controversies in the last two years.  It’s never easy making sweeping changes to an entire culture and team.  I believe that the Broncos and Pat Bowlen did what needed to be done in 2008 by firing Mike Shanahan.  It was long overdue, but I do understand why so many fans were upset and in so many ways, they were emotionally derailed from the team when Josh McDaniels came into the job.  The case for Josh McDaniels wasn’t made any easier when within months of his hiring, he ruffled a few feathers and sent the guy who could have been the face of our team out the door.  All this adversity, how do the fans stay positive?

Matters eased a little bit when McDaniels came into his first season winning some games.  Fans were okay with his decisions, if not happy about them.  Most of us were ready to admit that he was right in making the decisions he did.  I was one of those people.  I was a McDaniels supporter dating back to his day of hire in Denver.  He is a member of the Denver Broncos and to this point, has shown himself largely to be a proud, honest man.  Then today, November 27th, we received the news that illegal taping has occurred in our organization by Steve Scarnecchia.  Never a dull day in Denver, right?

So, as the news unfolded, I’ve felt a myriad of emotions.  Honestly, my first reaction was, “Another day with the Broncos in the headlines.  Nothing dull with my team.”  Then, I felt anger.  How could a coach that I’ve supported and defended for being honest be directly tied to something as ugly as this?  I’ve been defending McDaniels as a man with high intelligence and integrity, and now this comes up.  Of course, later news has indicated that Steve Scarnecchia acted alone, and that McDaniels, and his staff had acted accordingly based on the situation at hand.  His reason for being fined $50,000?  He did not report the act as soon as he found out.  He did not report the taping as soon as he should have.   

 The NFL and the Broncos have released statements essentially clearing Josh McDaniels name as the offender here.  Where the real truth lies, we may never know completely.  I for one, am comfortable with the idea that the blame for the incident (lovingly dubbed Spygate 2 by some larger voices in sports media) falls widely on Steve Scarnacchia, not Josh McDaniels.  However, being the lightning rod of controversy McDaniels is, the blame will likely fall on his shoulders alone in the eyes of Joe and Jane Fan.  What is interesting and unfortunate here, is that most of us felt like McDaniels could make no bigger mistake than the one he made when he sent away Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and others.  I felt like if he could make it through that and still have fan support, he could make it through anything.  While I still support Josh McDaniels because he is the head coach of the Denver Broncos, I have to wonder if this is the scarlet letter he will never be able to shed. 

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