Broncos indefinitely suspend Belleville East grad after DUI charges

July 15, 2013 

— The Denver Broncos have suspended two executives who are facing drunken driving charges.

Director of player personnel Matt Russell, a Belleville East High School graduate, was suspended indefinitely without pay Monday, and director of pro personnel Tom Heckert was suspended for a month without pay.

Executive vice president John Elway's top two advisers were arrested and jailed on suspicion of drunken driving in separates incidents within a month of each other.

"This morning, we informed both Matt and Tom of the discipline as well as our expectations of them going forward,'' Broncos president Joe Ellis said in a news release."While they will be punished and held accountable, our first priority is their health and well-being. We must ensure they receive any care they need and support them however possible.

"Although they have expressed great remorse, this in no way excuses their conduct. The decisions they made away from the workplace undermined the integrity of our organization and the NFL as well as the values instilled by Pat Bowlen during his ownership. Specifically and most disturbingly, their actions endangered the lives of innocent people.''

According to the release, the Broncos have informed the NFL of its plans, and the league "has informed us it has no plans to impose additional discipline for this conduct.''

The team said details of the treatment required by Russell and Heckert were being kept confidential.

"Both will be monitored closely to ensure compliance and will be thoroughly evaluated before any potential return to employment with the Denver Broncos,'' the release stated.

On July 6, Russell, who was celebrating his 40th birthday, hit two vehicles, including a police SUV in Breckenridge, injuring an officer.

Russell registered a 0.246 percent breath alcohol content, three times the legal threshold for a DUI violation in Colorado, according to the arrest affidavit.

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.

"It's particularly disappointing that two members of my staff acted so irresponsibly,'' Elway said in the release. "Simply put, it's unacceptable and inexcusable.

"I was extremely concerned when Tom Heckert notified me of his arrest in June. We talked about it as a staff, reinforced the intolerable nature of his actions and notified the league as we began the disciplinary process. To hear of Matt Russell's incident last week was especially disturbing considering the timing and severity of those allegations.''

Russell won the Butkus Award as the top collegiate linebacker in the nation as a senior with the Colorado Buffaloes in 1996. He was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the 1997 NFL Draft, but his NFL career was short-lived as knee injuries forced his retirement after the 1999 season.

Russell served as scout with the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots from 2001 to 2008.

Russell is credited for persuading Scott Pioli and the Patriots to draft Matt Cassel.

He was hired by the Broncos in 2009, and promoted to Director of Player Personnel in January, 2012.

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