It has been a rough few days for the Denver Broncos front office. We first learned that director of player personnel Matt Russell was charged with driving under the influence, careless driving resulting in injury, having an open container of alcohol in his car, and failure to display proof of insurance under the weekend, and that news was quickly followed with the report that John Elway’s other top assistant, director of pro personnel Tom Heckert, was also slapped with a DUI.
The Broncos were embarrassed with the two incidents and they issued a very strong statement that left many wondering what the future held for Russell and Heckert in Denver.
Most recently, Broncos President Joe Ellis told the Denver Post that he expects “severe” punishment.
“This type of behavior is inexcusable, unacceptable and completely embarrassing,” Ellis said. “It’s embarrassing for us as a franchise, it’s embarrassing for [Broncos owner Pat] Bowlen, it’s especially embarrassing for our fans. We don’t tolerate it and we’re not going to. . . . My expectation is the discipline will be severe.”
If the league decides to discipline Russell and Heckert for a few weeks starting immediately, it could be the worst possible timing for the Broncos.
Suspending the two executives during the preseason when front offices around the league are working to finalize their roster would be difficult for Denver. They wouldn’t be able to use their two brightest minds to make the important decisions that could be the difference between making a deep run in the postseason and missing the playoffs.
If that happens, the fans won’t be happy and Ellis would completely understand.
“One episode is one too many. Two is ridiculous,” Ellis said. “I understand the outrage in the community, I understand the outrage of the fans. It’s justified. We have an obligation to do the right thing. And we will.”