Broncos Execs Suspended For DUI Arrests
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos came down hard on their two executives facing drunken driving charges, suspending them without pay and making it clear they must straighten out their lives if they want to work in the NFL again.
Team president Joe Ellis said both men expressed remorse. But "this in no way excuses their conduct," Ellis said.
Russell and Heckert will be provided with confidential treatment, rehabilitation and counseling services and must comply with these programs before they're allowed to return to work, Ellis said.
While the two "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," Ellis said.
While some critics were calling for the executives' ouster, Ellis emphasized, "We're not inclined to tear down lives even further. We're inclined to help people rebuild themselves."
The Broncos issued the penalties Monday after consulting with the NFL commissioner's office, which informed them it has no plans to impose additional discipline.
However, both men still face legal ramifications for their actions that could affect their future employment with the Broncos, who said they "will give careful consideration to the legal proceedings in determining their future standing with the organization."
Executive vice president John Elway's top two advisers were arrested and jailed on suspicion of drunken driving in separate incidents within a month of each other this summer, resulting in the biggest black eye for the organization since a videotape scandal cost former coach Josh McDaniels his job in 2010.
Elway was brought on board after McDaniels' firing, and the Hall of Fame quarterback who led Denver to five Super Bowls and two championships quickly restored its reputation -- until the trouble for his top two lieutenants this offseason.
"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," Elway said. "It's particularly disappointing that two members of my staff acted so irresponsibly. Simply put, it's unacceptable and inexcusable."
The team's top brass informed Heckert and Russell of their suspensions Monday morning.
The fallout from the executives' DUI arrests could very well affect the Broncos on the field as this summer's trendy Super Bowl pick will be without its top two personnel men at a time when player evaluations are paramount with training camp just around the corner.
Elway said other key members of the personnel department such as Lenny McGill, the team's assistant college scouting director, and assistant pro personnel director Anthony "Champ" Kelly will divvy up the workload at Dove Valley and "we'll look at adding possibly somebody else from outside to pick up the slack" during the suspensions.
Ellis said he suspects the Broncos' fortunes on the field won't be affected by their front office troubles, however.
"What this does to the football team other than serving as an unpleasant reminder of not drinking and driving, I really don't anticipate these situations will affect our coaches and players," Ellis said. "I think they'll come out ready to go a week from Thursday."
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