When John Elway accepted Pat Bowlen's offer to head the Broncos' football department 2½ years ago, there was excitement about hiring a head coach, building a player roster and returning the franchise to its long-lost Super Bowl contention.
In recent weeks, Elway's job as executive vice president of football operations has been about crisis management. His top two front-office assistants, Matt Russell and Tom Heckert, were arrested on drunken-driving chargers. More recently, his best defensive player, linebacker Von Miller, was slapped with a four-game suspension by the NFL for violating its drug policy.
Miller has appealed. But even if he wins, the smudge on the Broncos' reputation will be more difficult to repair. As Elway was about to walk out to his team's first training camp practice Thursday morning, he stopped to address his team's recent run of off-field transgressions.
"There are times when unfortunately, we're all human," Elway said. "When you have an organization of this size, some people are going to make mistakes. My feeling is face the problems, hopefully get the problem fixed. You want to be human about this, but also make sure people understand this is not what we're about.
"But today we're back to football. And that's the best thing. In my job, just like this team will go through adversity this year, we went through some adversity in the front office. And we'll deal with it, handle it and hopefully better for it."
"I was disappointed in them," Elway said. "They're better than that. They know that, and I know that."
Initially Elway said he would look outside the organization to fill the roles of Heckert and Russell, at least temporarily. The team suspended Heckert for 30 days; Russell has been suspended indefinitely.
But after further thought, Elway said those responsibilities would be divvied up in-house.
By Mike Klis, Denver Post
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