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“We handed down what we believe is significant discipline and at the same time, the two gentlemen have not been fired,” Ellis said. “They can get the proper help and counseling and education that’s necessary and the hope is they can improve their lives and rebuild their lives.”
“They embraced it and understand the need for it and we are moving forward to take the right steps to correct the situation,” Ellis said.
The fallout from the executives’ DUI arrests could very well affect the Broncos on the field as this summer’s trendy Super Bowl pick will be without its top two personnel men at a time when player evaluations are paramount with training camp just around the corner.
Elway said other key members of the personnel department such as Lenny McGill, the team’s assistant college scouting director, and assistant pro personnel director Anthony “Champ” Kelly will divvy up the workload at Dove Valley and “we’ll look at adding possibly somebody else from outside to pick up the slack” during the suspensions.
“What this does to the football team other than serving as an unpleasant reminder of not drinking and driving, I really don’t anticipate these situations will affect our coaches and players,” Ellis said. “I think they’ll come out ready to go a week from Thursday.”
Russell, Elway’s right-hand man, was arrested July 6 while celebrating his 40th birthday. He hit two vehicles, including a police SUV in Breckenridge, injuring an officer, and he registered a 0.246 percent breath alcohol content, three times the legal threshold for a DUI violation in Colorado, according to the arrest affidavit.
The Broncos kept Heckert’s arrest quiet until the AP reported it last Tuesday, a day after Russell apologized for his arrest. That revelation led the organization to acknowledge a “disturbing pattern of irresponsible behavior” that it vowed to clean up.
Heckert’s blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.162 percent upon his release seven hours after his June 11 arrest in Parker, according to a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office report.
The Denver Post reported Monday that a search of state records also revealed backup offensive lineman Quentin Saulsberry was arrested May 19 in Arapahoe County on suspicion of drunken driving.
Despite the rash of drunken driving arrests, Ellis said he doesn’t think the Broncos have a cultural problem at their Dove Valley headquarters, just a handful of employees “who made extremely poor decisions that completely contradict the values and beliefs regarding social responsibilities that Mr. Bowlen expects us all to follow.”
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