Broncos president Joe Ellis is acknowledging that the team has some atoning to do after two of its top front office executives were busted for driving drunk.
“We’re not perfect. We’ve made our errors. We admit it. You can say we apologized for it — but I think an apology rings hollow when you run into the back of a police car or you’re blowing a blood-alcohol limit that’s three times the legal limit. I don’t think fans, I don’t think the public, I don’t think anybody wants to hear an apology,” Ellis told the Associated Press.
Ellis said that after Broncos director of pro personnel Tom Heckert and director of player personnel Matt Russell were both busted for driving drunk, the team realized it has a problem.
“So, I think you have to acknowledge your mistakes and you have to fix them and you have to do that the right way,” Ellis said. “There’s a lot of things we do. We offer programs, we offer a lot of help, there’s a ton of stuff the National Football League makes available to all the teams in an effort for them to avoid this kind of thing. In this case, we had two guys that couldn’t do it. And that’s just sad. That’s too bad. But we’re going to move on and our hope is that you won’t see this kind of incident from an employee again.”
A question the Broncos still haven’t answered is why they didn’t, as Ellis said, “think you have to acknowledge your mistakes” after Heckert’s DUI in June. Heckert’s arrest slipped under the radar and the Broncos didn’t say anything about it until reporters uncovered it a month later — after Russell had also been arrested. If the Broncos are such firm believers in acknowledging mistakes, it’s odd that they didn’t acknowledge Heckert’s mistake.
It’s also odd that John Elway, the front office boss who oversees both Heckert and Russell in Denver, has still said nothing publicly about their arrests. If the team wants to make a strong statement that it’s taking this matter seriously, the most prominent member of the front office should be the one making that statement.
The truth, however, is that there’s not much Elway, Ellis, Heckert or Russell can say right now. Ellis is right: When two top team executives are driving drunk, apologies after the fact ring hollow.