The Denver Broncos suspended pro personnel director Tom Heckert one month without pay and player personnel director Matt Russell indefinitely without pay for their DUI arrests this offseason.
Russell’s punishment was more severe because of his BAC level and behavior at the time of his arrest. His BAC test indicated he was three times over the legal limit for the state of Colorado. He also hit two vehicles, injuring an officer, according to SportsIllustrated.com.
Hecket’s DUI arrest was more traditional. His BAC was twice the legal limit, and he committed no other crimes according to RotoWorld.com.
Initially, the Broncos organization did nothing publicly about Hecket’s DUI that occurred on June 11th. The team notified the league office, but no punishment ensued.
Then after Russell’s arrest on July 6th, many claimed the organization had failed to be accountable for their actions. Ex-Bronco player Tom Nalen even went as far as to call the front office of the team “cowards.”
Thus, to avoid further criticism, Executive vice president John Elway and the Broncos laid down a somewhat harsh, although deserving, and unprecedented punishment that could change the landscape of DUI punishments in the NFL.
Besides on a few occasions where the death of a human was involved, DUI is normally not a severely punishable offense in the NFL.
Under current CBA rules, a first offense DUI arrest without injury to a bystander or passenger results in a two-game fine for NFL players. How drunk the player is makes no difference, that is the punishment. That’s pocket change for most NFL players.
Not only were the Broncos' executives docked pay checks, they will be out of a job for at least a month. Who knows when Russell will actually return.
Although the NFLPA will protect such policies and punishments against players, it is difficult to deny the Broncos are setting a precedent here.
Drive drunk with a job in the NFL, and there will be severe consequences. And the drunken you drive, the worse the punishment will be.