writer hack TJ Johnson posts The Dude’s Mail Revue on Thursdays whenever the hell he gets around to it. He takes your questions and gets your opinions about the state of the Broncos and the NFL. Then he responds with the appropriate level of aggression. Drop TJ a question: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(NOTE: Marmots were harmed in the writing of this Revue)
TJ, the Broncos should fire both Matt Russell and Tom Heckert. Elway and Co. need to demonstrate to the fans and the players there will be no tolerance for this kind of behavior. If we were talking about the Raiders, we'd all be saying they should go and you know it, Dude.
--Stewart Edwards: Parker, Colorado
Stewart: Trust me, if we were talking about the Raiders, I'd be demanding a forfeiture of games. Call me an opportunist if you'd like, but I prefer the term football capitalist. And all good capitalists know you kick your opponent when they are down--really hard.
But you seem like a serious guy, so you deserve (I guess) a serious answer. Let's start with the obvious: Russell and Heckert did a pretty dumbass thing getting behind the wheel like they did (no matter their blood-alcohol level), and as I've pointed out before, if we believe the statistics, most drunk drivers hit the road on many occasions before they are actually arrested.
So, the first thing the Broncos need to do is get these cats some serious help so they never repeat the mistake. No one was seriously hurt through their asshattery this time, so the Broncos should count their blessings and get them the help they need.
Had Russell or Heckert actually struck and killed someone, would they be fired? Of course. But they didn't, so hypotheticals are a bit moot. We have to look at the actual crime they committed--DUI--and act accordingly.
Which brings me to my real point: firing these guys does nothing other than satisfy the need for blood. I prefer a little redemption.
I think It's better to give them both a heavy penalty that includes a significant suspension (120 days seems about right), a forfeiture of pay, rehabilitation, and community service (complete with some public service announcements).
Finally--I'm not the first to suggest this--the Broncos shoud take the forfeited salaries and donate them to a group like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Turn this story into something positive rather than a sacrifice so Roger Goodell, Joe Ellis, Pat Bowlen, and John Elway can say they were tough on crime.
But yeah, if it were the Raiders, I'd throw the book at them (the heaviest book I could find).
You can't say that Joe Ellis isn't acting appropriately this time. His statements on Russell and Heckert were swift and as strongly worded as they could possibly be.
--Mark Anderson: Greeley
Admittedly, I've got a bias against Joe Ellis. It started when I first learned he was a member of the Lucky Sperm Donor's Club (membership has its privileges, no matter one's political affiliation).
I'm also often amused by Jim I've-been-in-this-PR-game-since LBJ Saccomano, but both he and Ellis serve a purpose in the organization. Sacco's purpose is to spin everything like the Broncos shit nothing but unicorns.
Ellis, on the other hand, is the organization's hatchet man--he does the killing and the disposing of bodies (see: McDaniels, Josh). He's like the guy in PR who everyone hates and wants to see fired, but sticks around during corporate downsizing because the CEO and COO don't want to get their hands dirty.
Joe doesn't mind--I have a certain amount of respect for that (and for Sacco's unicorns, for that matter).
What's clear in this case is that Ellis and the Broncos wanted to keep the Heckert DUI to themselves, which isn't at all shocking. Arnie Stapleton quickly blew up that plan. So they were forced to get red in the face a second time, or as Ellis put it, "When they [Heckert's arrest] become external, then we deal with them..."
The statement rings a bit hollow to me. One could argue that since the Broncos are heavily subsidized by taxpayer funds through their stadium deal, they are as public as public can be--or at least as public as Tim Tebow's next speaking appearance.
TJ, can you go a week without mentioning Tim Tebow?
--John Paul, Mora, New Mexico.
Would you have drafted Aaron Hernandez?
--Daniel Ortega, Lawrence, Kansas
Daniel: Who the hell knows? Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. The real question for all of these guys who are playing ex post facto GM right now is this: "Have you ever drafted a player because their potential talent outweighed their potential for bad behavior?"
My guess is you'd see every hand in the room go up. Other than that, I've noted a lot of glass houses and a lot of stones.
TJ, you guys are so liberal, don't you realize you're alienating many Broncos fans in a state like Colorado, where half the population is conservative?
--Allen Davies, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Allen: My gosh, we didn't. We should put a stop to this immediately. Tell you what: I'll try and put a muzzle on Ted, Doug, and Doc Bear at the next IAOFM staff meeting/Hillary Clinton potluck.