Broncos could be fined for Heckert, Russell suspensions


On Monday, the Broncos are expected to decide the fate of director of player personnel Matt Russell and pro personnel director Tom Heckert, both of whom were arrested in separate drunk-driving incidents over the past few weeks.  Once a decision is made, executive V.P. of football operations John Elway is expected to break his silence (some in league circles regard it as a conspicuous silence) regarding the situation.

Ultimately, owner Pat Bowlen may break his own silence, peppered with a few expletives.

As explained by Albert Breer of NFL Network, Bowlen’s pocket could be picked by the league office as a result of the suspensions, under the same policy that fines teams when multiple players are suspended in the same year.  As Breer surmises, Heckert would be the first suspension, since his arrest occurred before Russell’s.  Russell then would be the second.

If Commissioner Roger Goodell decides to apply the policy to non-players in Denver, the Broncos would have to pay 25 percent of the salary Russell loses while on suspension to the league office, which gives all fine money to various football-related charities.

Of course, it’s money that otherwise would have been paid to Russell if he weren’t suspended, but at least the Broncos would be getting something in return for the salary paid to the man regarded (at least before this incident) as the eventual heir to Elway.

Still, the amounts paid by teams for suspensions imposed on players and non-players falls into the parking-ticket category for billion-dollar businesses.  That’s why we remain convinced that the only way to ensure more vigilance by teams in screening and monitoring and educating potentially problem employees is to take away not money but draft picks.  Though I don’t necessarily advocate that approach, it would definitely create the strongest possible incentive to reduce violations of the substance-abuse policy, the steroids policy, and the personal-conduct policy.

The only question is whether the NFL wants to create a stronger incentive than the incentives that currently exist.  Looking at the year-to-year numbers regarding suspensions under the various policies, the current incentives don’t seem to be working very well.

16 responses to “Broncos could be fined for Heckert, Russell suspensions

  1. Ok I honestly might be miss reading this. If a thought in any form would be to take draft picks from a team because a paid executive gets DUI is ridiculous. If you want to send a message you don’t punish the team for what an educated adult for not being responsible. We can’t babysit every single employee. You might have a bit more control over players as they are in camp or training camp or traveling with the team an under some supervison. Executives are on their own and they live without that security net around them. They are though adults and know better. They an only them should be pumished be it suspended for a year or fired. Whatever it takes to really make it painful. The team should not give up draft picks at all. I see a team being punished by giving up these draft picks then the executive leaving for another team just as college coaches leave for another team when they get in trouble. The school is punished and the coach leaves for another school or the NFL. You punish the person if its confined to the individual. Stop punishing others for what one does. Start holding the individual responsible for his own actions.

  2. They should be banned from post-season play…but then again they won’t go far with ole one-and-done behind center.

  3. When it was the Saints, the league deemed “loss of institutional control” and threw the book at them.

    How is this NOT loss of institutional control?

    The commissioner MUST make another example. And if it destroys the Broncos season, so be it.

  4. Does anybody believe the Broncos were overlooking known drinking problems just to get these guys in their front office? That might sometimes be the case with players, where all the team cares about is if the guy can perform on the field, but that thinking just doesn’t hold water when you’re talking about front office personnel.

  5. unfortunately for the league, suspensions, fines don’t fix these types of problems….
    just like the new safety rules wont stop head injuries, injuries in general……

  6. What happened to personal accountability?

    Everything in this profession (NFL) seems like it falls upon the organization and not the person making the bad choice.

  7. What happened to personal accountability?

    Everything in this profession (NFL) seems like it falls upon the organization and not the person making the bad choice.

    that is what is happening on a national scale…individuals are never responsible, just buildings and corporate name that are not people (please) are responsible.
    You don’t need to work. You can have a place to live, tv and a cell phone and the actual working class is paying for it.
    The actual unemployment level, which is never reported in the media, is way closer to 20 pct.

  8. I would only consider taking away picks if the team knew, or should have known, about a problem with a guy, and hired him anyway. Third party responsibility for what grown folks do only goes so far.

    And, for spellingcops’ question about how much these guys make? In any given year, probably at least 5 times as much as most people make. My guess would be somewhere in the low-to-mid six figures.

  9. This is ridiculous. Could you imagine what would happen if all companies were punished for their employees mistakes? It’s going too far. If they need help with a problem, then the NFL and Broncos need to help there. Getting a DUI doesn’t mean you’re and alcoholic. It means you made a mistake and you could be an alcoholic. When they are handing out DUI’s on golf carts on the course, it has gone too far. We as a society need to look at the whole alcohol issues in a very different way. This will not be another Saints. They lost their coaches and executives. Broncos will lose a few personnel guys. Elway will step in for them and when they return from suspension, probably take them out for a beer 🙂

  10. Very much agreed, somebody that works with the NFL should take the lead at trying to inspire change to improve this, as well as every other league issue that needs to be addressed. Those guys have so much work left undone that I can’t think of another business offhand that snoozes by with so much on their proverbial to-do list than this one.

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