In a photo provided by the Douglas County (Colo.) Sheriff's Department, Tom Heckert, the Denver Broncos' new director of pro personnel, appears in a photo after he was arrested on June 11, 2013, and charged with driving under the influence and careless driving. The Broncos have suspended two executives who are facing drunken driving charges. Director of player personnel Matt Russell was suspended indefinitely without pay Monday, July 15, 2013, and Heckert was suspended for a month without pay.
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.
Director of player personnel Matt Russell was suspended indefinitely, and director of pro personnel Tom Heckert was suspended for a month.
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."
"I was extremely concerned when Tom Heckert notified me of his arrest in June. We talked about it as a staff, reinforced the intolerable nature of his actions and notified the league as we began the disciplinary process. To hear of Matt Russell's incident last week was especially disturbing considering the timing and severity of those allegations," Elway added.
"While Matt and Tom have apologized and taken accountability, it's most important they take advantage of whatever help they need. We will learn from this and take the necessary action as we move forward in a positive way."
The punishment reflected a mixture of team owner Pat Bowlen's indignation and compassion.
"We handed down what we believe is significant discipline and at the same time, the two gentlemen have not been fired," Ellis said. "They can get the proper help and counseling and education that's necessary and the hope is they can improve their lives and rebuild their lives."
The team's top brass informed Heckert and Russell of their suspensions Monday morning.
"They embraced it and understand the need for it and we are moving forward to take the right steps to correct the situation," Ellis said.
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.
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|San Francisco||8:05 PM|
|Milwaukee||12||1st Qtr 6:05|
|LA Lakers||8:30 PM|
|San Jose||1||2nd Prd|
|Florida||1||1st Prd 14:22|
|NY Rangers||7:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|Cal State Fullerton||56||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||66|
|Florida A&M||58||2nd Half 5:30|
|Nicholls||63||2nd Half 2:04|
|Ohio||53||2nd Half 12:20|
|Penn State||29||2nd Half 14:46|
|Northern Colorado||48||2nd Half 14:31|
|Duquesne||30||2nd Half 13:13|
|Troy||33||1st Half 0:24|
|UCF||23||1st Half 1:55|
|DePaul||27||1st Half 0:38|
|Alabama||27||1st Half 2:45|
|Miami-Florida||20||1st Half 1:28|
|Baylor||42||1st Half 1:39|
|Savannah State||7:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||7:00 PM|
|Oral Roberts||7:30 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Alabama A&M||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Mich||8:00 PM|
|UC Riverside||8:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||8:00 PM|
|Rhode Island||8:00 PM|
|Portland State||8:00 PM|
|Fresno State||8:00 PM|
|Miss State||8:25 PM|
|West Virginia||8:30 PM|
|Boise State||10:30 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|
|Montana State||63||2nd Half 0:51|
|Alabama State||39||2nd Half 15:47|
|Louisiana Tech||23||1st Half 0:01|
|Southern Ill||7:07 PM|
|Idaho State||7:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||8:30 PM|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm||X||27-13|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm||X||20-16|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm||X||34-14|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm||X||24-23|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon||X||34-24|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon||X||31-30|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon||X||31-27|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon||X||34-27|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||35-10|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm||X||23-7|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm||X||44-31|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon||X||27-23|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm||X||34-27|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm||X||41-20|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon||26-26|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||23-20|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon||X||29-26|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon||X||48-30|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon||X||42-14|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon||X||14-13|