Usually, an arrest of an NFL team employee results in a perfunctory statement that doesn’t really state anything.
The Broncos have opted for a different approach with director of player personnel Matt Russell, who was arrested Saturday for DUI and crashing into a police car.
“Our organization is extremely disappointed and concerned with the incident involving Matt Russell,” the Broncos said in a statement released by the organization. “We immediately expressed our disappointment to Matt, and he is fully aware of the seriousness of this situation. This type of behavior is unacceptable and very troubling. We expect better from all employees, particularly those in leadership positions. These allegations completely contradict the values and beliefs of the Broncos regarding social responsibility.
“We are continuing to gather information and will handle this matter appropriately and in accordance with all NFL policies.”
The team also issued a statement on behalf of Russell.
“I deeply regret the poor judgment I demonstrated that resulted in my arrest over the weekend,” Russell said. “I apologize to the Denver Broncos, our fans and the National Football League for this inexcusable mistake. I’m ashamed that I represented this region and the Broncos organization in the manner that I did. I take complete responsibility for my actions and will be fully accountable. Going forward, I will take steps to ensure this never happens again.”
The candor demonstrated in both statements will make it difficult for Russell to defend himself against the criminal charges. But it could be that the evidence is sufficiently overwhelming to make that point moot.
Russell will be subject to discipline under the personal-conduct policy, and the Broncos could separately take action against the man who previously was believed to be in line to assume full control of the front office if/when John Elway leaves the organization or graduates to an ownership position. Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post suggests that Russell’s job “could be at risk.”
In past cases, there have been legitimate questions regarding whether coaches and executives who get in trouble receive better treatment than players who violate the law, even though coaches and executives supposedly are held to a higher standard. In this case, it appears so far that Russell will be treated at least as strongly, if not more harshly, than a player under similar circumstances.