Denver Broncos suspend executives facing DUI charges - Matt Russell and Tom Heckert
Last Updated: 143 days ago
There were no surprises about how John Elway felt. These are Elway's top two assistants. He promoted one, hired the other.
Matt Russell is Elway's No. 1 deputy as the Broncos' director of player personnel. The team on Monday suspended Russell indefinitely without pay after his arrest July 6 for suspicion of drunken driving and other charges in Summit County.
A few months ago, Elway let the contract of Keith Kidd expire, then replaced him as director of pro personnel with Tom Heckert. A month after Heckert had been on the job, he was arrested June 11 in Parkeron suspicion of driving under the influence. The Broncos disciplined Heckert, 45, with a one-month suspension without pay Monday.
"It's disappointing when you have people working for you that get in these situations," said Elway, who runs the Broncos' football operations as executive vice president. "It's embarrassing for me, it's embarrassing for the organization, as well as for Tom and Matt. I look at it as threefold. No. 1 is the punishment side.
"Then there's the process of doing whatever we can within the organization to make sure this doesn't happen again. And then No. 3 to make sure Tom and Matt get the appropriate attention they need. There's embarrassment. There's anger. And there's also compassion for the individuals it happened to."
Meanwhile, Quentin Saulsberry, a center-guard who was on the Broncos' practice squad last season, was arrested May 19 in Arapahoe County on suspicion of drunken driving, The Denver Post has learned through a search of state records. That's three DUI charges in a seven-week span.
"I will tell you these guys made bad mistakes, they know that," Broncos president Joe Ellis said Monday by phone. "We've talked about that at length. But we've got over 200 employees and 90 players right now and this is a group of people who collectively act and conduct themselves in and out of the building in a manner that we're all very proud of.
"Are they perfect? No. But there are a lot of really, really, really good people working here. And to say we have a culture problem here that centers around alcohol, I just don't believe that."
Indeed, the punishment could have been more severe. According to a Colorado State Patrol report, Russell had a blood-alcohol content of .246 — more than three times the legal limit when he was arrested after he hit a Breckenridge police SUV.
Heckert, a former general manager with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns, had a blood-alcohol content of .162 upon his release from jail seven hours after he was arrested June 11, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Department.
"Right now what we need to do is take action, I think we're doing that," Ellis said. "We'll get the proper help and treatment so they can help themselves. Hopefully, they can return as productive Broncos.
"We're not in the business of tearing apart lives. We're in the business of trying to help people who need their lives built back up. That's our philosophy. They understand that. They were remorseful as they were last week. Now as individuals they're going to do their part to do the best they can to correct this and make the best of the situation."
Russell, who was promoted a year ago from top scout to a position where he oversees the Broncos' college and pro scouting departments, also was cited for careless driving resulting in injury and open container as police found an open bottle of peppermint Schnapps in his truck. He also allegedly hit a car in Frisco minutes before he slammed into the patrol car.
According to the state patrol report, Russell was driving approximately 40 mph when he hit the police vehicle. The officer in the SUV was taken to a local hospital with neck and back pain but was released with minor injuries, according to the police report.
How will Elway fill the duties of Russell and Heckert while they're away?
"Everyone else will have to do a little bit more," Elway said. "I'm going to talk to some people outside to see if they can come in and help us. Obviously, when you're missing those guys for a period of time we'll have to pick up the slack. How we do that I'm in the process of determining that."
Experienced high-level front-office executives who are available include Gene Smith, Bill Devaney, Bill Kuharich, Bobby DePaul and Jerry Angelo.
Read more:Broncos' DUI arrests lead to suspensions for Matt Russell, Tom Heckert - The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_23663809/broncos-dui-arrests-lead-suspensions-matt-russell-tom#ixzz2ZAbboPG8
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