John Elway and Joe Ellis speak on the Heckert/Russell suspensions

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Straight from the horses' mouth so to speak--let's try and make some sense of this.

Joe Ellis

On the decision making process:

"We had conversations with several of us internally, John Elway, myself, Mr. Bowlen (inaudible) over the course of the last several days as the events unfolded, and we did some consultation with the national football league on the process for discipline and we arrived at these conclusions and these punishments this morning"

On Russell and Heckert's way back to the team:

"The key right now for each guy frankly is that they're getting the right counseling and assistance, help that they need to educate themselves to make better decisions and move forward in a productive fashion, so if they can come out of that with that I think they'll be better suited in the organization and they can be productive employees here at the Broncos and productive people away from the building when they're not working for us."

On the Broncos public image:

"Well certainly we're concerned about that and there's been a lot of anxiety and frankly outrage in the community about what happened with these two executives here as there should have been. We're taking steps to correct it and as an organization we need to continue to look at things we can do internally to try to prevent these kind of things from happening and we'll take some steps to do that as well..."

John Elway

On his reaction the situations:

"It's always stunning any time you have someone in the organization whether it be an executive or a player or anybody that has an issue with the law as we've had...I think disappointing and we can't say that enough as far as what it means to the organization-how we want this organization to be portrayed so to have our employees be in that situation is not something that we want to see."

On the punishments:

"I think that's why it's so important to look at each circumstance separately and be able to figure out what the punishment is correct for each one...Look at it three ways 1) the embarrassment of the organization so the punishment was set out 2) is we gotta look-and that's to me where we get better we look at our policies from within and to try to get our policies to where it doesn't happen again 3) and then also the compassionate side where we have to be concerned with Matt and Tom and get them in the evaluation process and make sure that for their lives they get the evaluation for where they are.

On message to the locker room:

"I think it's important for the players to know that they're not going to be held any different than anybody else that the front office is just as accountable as the players are gonna be held and that's to make sure that we're consistent there and so be able to have the punishment meet that crime and also have the players understand that we mean business in the front office as well as with them."

(Quotes transcribed by Bronco Mike from DenverBroncos.com)

My Take

Embarrassment is the number 1 force behind all of it. Notice that Ellis corrected himself with "and rightly so" when discussing the public outrage? With the NFL being involved this news was going to come out eventually. The Broncos sure were trying to keep this as quiet as possible though. I think the biggest reason why Russell was given a more severe punishment was because his occurred AFTER Heckert. The organization was already dealing with the situation internally. All the guys at the top were involved and aware of it. And Russell STILL managed to go out and do something severely stupid (allegedly).

The Broncos were proactive to the point where the NFL feels no need to get involved. Who knows if Goodell's warped sense of justice played into each decision, but one has to believe the Broncos worked closely and wanted to hand down a punishment that wouldn't be augmented or undermined by the league. No organization wants to be perceived as weak or lacking of character when it comes to hot button issues in the public eye. Just look at the Patriots, they cut bait with Hernandez long before he was arrested.

Lets jump down to Elway a bit and talk about his statement on the message to the locker room. I said it when the news broke. Neither would be fired. You want to know why? This organization didn't release Knowshon Moreno or Matt Prater when they were involved in these situations. There was precedence for amnesty and patience and they allowed the league mechanism and CBA to dictate what would happen. The situation is a bit trickier and different with executives hence the punishment being kneaded out by the organization as opposed to the league. Had the situations been reversed and the Broncos had released the players and suspended the executives, I think that sends the wrong message. Whatever you think personally about the situation you can't accuse the Broncos of treating the FO or the players any differently even if the mechanism for punishment was different.

Finally, it was mentioned by Joe Ellis that Pat Bowlen was a part of the process. I wonder exactly how much say he has in the situation, and indeed if John Elway and Joe Ellis themselves were in a bit of hot water as well? Going back to the McDaniels spying incident, that one event more than anything else led to the canning of the boy wonder. Bowlen was severely disappointed and embarrassed to have his organizations' name dragged through the mud then. Elway was brought in to clean up the organization from top to bottom and restore the Broncos' good name. Heckert and Russell were hires by Elway and Ellis. Well, Heckert was a hire, Russell was promoted by Elway. Simply put, it is Elway's job to fill the FO and the roster with character guys. It looks badly on both him Ellis to have two guys he brought exhibit less than exemplary behavior and character.

Whatever happens for here, everyone should be on notice. Future indiscretions would be grounds for termination whether it be a player or staff member.

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