Nalen calls Broncos “cowards” for silence on Heckert’s June arrest

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Broncos Director of Pro Personnel Tom Heckert was arrested for drunk driving on June 11. The Broncos knew about it and informed the league office, but they didn’t suspend him, and they said nothing about it publicly.

Broncos Director of Player Personnel Matt Russell was arrested for drunk driving on July 6. When news of that went public, the Broncos quickly issued a statement saying they were disappointed, but they still said nothing about Heckert’s arrest.

It was only after the Associated Press picked up on Heckert’s arrest on Tuesday that the Broncos acknowledged it and said that both Heckert and Russell would face severe discipline.

Now the Broncos are facing questions about why they didn’t discipline Heckert, or say anything about it publicly, when he was arrested.

Some of the strongest questions are coming from Tom Nalen, the former Broncos center who was named to the team’s Ring of Fame in May. On Twitter, Nalen referred to the decision-makers on his old team as “cowards” for failing to crack down on Heckert immediately, and he suggested that their silence may have suggested to Russell that drinking and driving was something he could get away with.

Nalen also called the statements from the Broncos about aggressive discipline for Heckert and Russell a “PR stunt” that is only being done now because the team is taking public criticism for having two high-ranking executives arrested. Nalen also raises a troubling question: What if, instead of Russell causing minor injuries to the officer in the police car he crashed into, Russell had killed the police officer? What would we be saying then about the Broncos’ failure to send a message after Heckert’s arrest?

“If they had come down hard on Heckert, I believe Matt doesn’t make that mistake last weekend,” Nalen said. “If Russell had killed someone and then the news of Heckert came out with no discipline, I think fans might be angrier.”

Nalen is right: The Broncos blew it with their response (or lack thereof) to Heckert’s arrest.

55 responses to “Nalen calls Broncos “cowards” for silence on Heckert’s June arrest

  1. I agree that the Broncos should have come down hard on Heckert, but this article is almost making it sound like Matt Russell didn’t have any responsibility for drinking while driving. He’s a big boy and he is accountable, too. There is plenty of blame to go around on this one. And as you pointed out, thankfully the police officer wasn’t killed.

  2. Nothing like post-active discipline as opposed to pro-active warnings.
    The good old boy network is alive and well in Denver.
    Thank you Tom Nalen for calling it like it is.

  3. I agree with the sentiment but the delivery takes away from the message.

    Accountability is key and promotes good faith and absolutely should be questioned. Name calling is biting the hand that fed you.

  4. Nalen is 100% right, the Bronco’s brass are cowards in how they are handling these situations, and I would bet my money that had they addressed the Heckert issue when it happened, there’s no way Russell would have put himself in the position he did. Speaking of arrests, I find it interesting that the media jumps all over the fact that there have been 33 NFL player arrests since the Superbowl, but none of the media, (not even PFT) has the courage to delve any deeper into the facts (unlike Florio likes to do with players contracts, the Hernandez case, Haslam case etc.) but that of the 33 player arrests, only 3 players were white, 1 Hispanic (Hernandez) and 29 were black players. None of the white players involved felonies, one was a DUI and I believe the other two were public intoxication. Some may argue that it is a small sample size but the facts are that it is not a “sample”, it is all who have been arrested.

  5. In this day & age, you just can’t sweep something under the rug.

    It usually will come back to haunt you.

    This certainly did.

  6. Come on! Drinking and driving is wrong because you can kill someone, not because your team may put out a mean press release. If the possibility of going to jail for murder isn’t enough for you to call for a ride then nothing will…

  7. It will be interesting to see if the league steps in here. I personally believe they should administer penalty comparable to a penalty administered to a player with a similar offense.

  8. Why do employers have to punish employees for things they do away from the job? “Everyone is mad, we have to punish this guy.” What is punishing a 40 year old man going to prove? Is it going to teach him something he doesn’t already know? Just say ” If it happens again you’re out ta here.” Honestly, I would say let the punishment of the law be enough.

  9. There is a Director of Pro Personnel AND a Director of Player Personnel? How deep does their management go?

  10. Why are they responsible to announce it to the public? And as far as punishments, they reported it to the league office. It is seemingly understandable to wait until the league dishes out their punishment and the Broncos add to it if they don’t think it is enough.

  11. “Can someone explain why its the teams responsibility to discipline these guys, i mean isn’t that why we have a justice system?”

    We do have a justice system, and it comes down extremely harshly on DUI offenders in this state– to the tune of $7,000-$10,000. Now, that’s 1/3 of your average salary in Colorado, but mere pocket change for an NFL executive. One may argue these laws disproportionately penalize the common person for the same offense.

    For that reason, I think the NFL and organization should enforce further penalties.

  12. it’s not the teams’ responsibility to discipline them, but it is their obligation as employers to hold their employees accountable and respond accordingly. these guys can and should face punishment from both the justice system and their employer, like anyone else in the world would.

  13. @jefbob, I agree with you 100%, nalen is wrong for bashing the broncos like that. The broncos done their part when they told the league office about herkert’s DUI, the league chose to keep things quiet. With russell’s DUI, Denver’s had enough and now they’re letting it know that they won’t tolerate this from anybody. I like how whoever reported this made denver look bad as if they swept the first DUI under the rug, broncos had every right to keep quiet about hekert, don’t need any distractions right now. These two will get hit hard with discipline from the league and denver

  14. Reactions are getting a bit overblown at this point…

    I mean, it’s not like these guys MURDERED A BUNCH OF PEOPLE!!

    Less than 2 months left til real football. Thank the gods.

  15. Are you kidding me? Drinking and driving is against the law and everyone who has an effing driver’s license knows it. Regardless of the Bronco’s reaction to another employee’s DUI, Russell is responsible for his own damn actions. What a cop out to blame the Broncos for Russell breaking the law, putting the lives of others at risk and thinking he could get away with it.

  16. Funny I don’t see all the phony sanctimonious outrage when its F/O guy.

    These had been players the church ladies would be out in full force whining about “character”.

  17. Not unlike cancer, it seems most people I know have been affected by DUI in one way or another.
    If there’s a more irresponsibly selfish offense for a “adult” (who knows better) to engage in it’s news to me.

    These guys are grown men putting the lives of people everywhere at stake because they are selfish and childish.
    We all go through that phase in life where we take UN-necessary risks, but at their ages this behavior is absurd. Get a cab, call a friend, get a Hotel room, etc.
    They can’t be crying poor.

    Nalen is exactly correct, these 2 clowns should be fired. It all points directly to John Elway and his inability to manage people

  18. How do you discipline high ranking employees like these two?
    Make them watch the game from the 300 level? Give them $17 and make them stand in line for a beer (oops) and nachos?
    Other than monetary, which the club will no doubt pay, there is nothing.

  19. Again, there are going to be endless things to complain about Denver Bronco football until they get super serious about football. This Front Office has been a disaster for many years now and they still can’t seem to get things under control. They better win the SB this year or they deserve to get hit hard with every excuse that points to why they failed if they do.

  20. If he was drunk enough to hit a cop car…nothing would have mattered. This guy is a pure drunk…there is no fixing him. He will drink regardless of consequences. He may stay clean for a year, but he’ll someday return to drinking….get drunk enough to make the mistake again. Just watch.

  21. I don’t recall Tom Nalen speaking out about cut blocking or cheating the salary cap to win a Superbowl. Yet he has the temerity to call his former team and the two guys (Bowlen and Elway), who did more than anyone else to put those two rings on his fingers, cowards for not coming clean in a timely fashion?

    Sure, he’s right, they ARE cowards. But those in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones.

  22. Nofoolnodrool says:
    Jul 10, 2013 12:34 PM
    Are the Broncos becoming the new Ravens in handling off field issues?
    Again, does this article mention the Ravens a single time? Practice what you preach and stay on topic TROLL

  23. Who is to say that Russell even knew Heckert received a DUI? People don’t typically share that sort of information around the water cooler.

    What Nalen is saying is that one’s employer is obligated to publicly expose employees who are charged with DUI prior to any conviction. You folks feel comfortable with your employers taking up that policy?

  24. “he suggested that their silence may have suggested to Russell that drinking and driving was something he could get away with.”

    I highly doubt that Russell thought he could run drunk into a police car and get away unscathed.

  25. Its not a teams job to discipline non player personnel for off field away from the team actions. theres this thing called the US justice system that should handle the issue or even the league.the team did what they needed to do so why exactly would they go out of their way to publicly announce this guys business when it is in no way relevent to anything pertaining to football

  26. Since when is it everybody’s business when a front office guy gets a dui? I understand with players as they are role models. What if a groundskeeper or a ball boy get arrested? Should that go public? It’s ridiculous that everybody cares so much anyway. Does he drive for a living? Then why is it even his employers business, let alone everyone else’s? That’s what court is for.

  27. If these guys weren’t ” on the clock ” and don’t need a valid drivers license to continue doing their jobs, I don’t know why their employer should even be involved. I’m sure plenty of people have had a DUI and never told their employer

  28. To blame the Broncos for Russell’s DUI after “covering up” Heckert’s is asinine. I am pretty sure Russell knew what Heckert had done and chose to drink and drive. Do most employer’s publically annnounce when their employees have been charged with a crime? If you can sit there and say that the Bronco’s, or any team for that matter, have exposed all of their teams off field issues I have some beach front property to sell you in Raton…….

  29. He’s 100% right. You can play what if on the second one all day but hoping to hide it and now getting burned. Karmas a b.
    I had respect from the broncos and Elway but that’s gone right out window.

  30. Judging by the reported alcohol levels, both men are severely alcohol dependent. It is possible that HR regs and the ADA prohibited disclosure by the team, although arrests are public record.

  31. If your calling someone a coward on the internet, your the lowest form of garbage their is

  32. Cowards???…are you kidding me?.. strong words coming from a ring of famer..better to keep quiet…and how ironic coming from one of the biggest cutblocking cheats of his time…glass houses,’o how we like to throw stones!!…

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