Rant: No Excuse for Whitewashing Bronco Execs’ DUIs

Over the past 50-plus years, the Denver Broncos have ascended from scrappy newcomers to civic treasures to a veritable public trust. Although the popularity of our city’s other sports franchises ebbs and flows, most Denverites, be they natives or not, proudly bleed orange and blue, and excitement about the team is higher now than it’s been since the Elway helicopter landed.

That’s why the word “trust” leaves a rather bitter taste this week. Within just a few days, we learned that director of player personnel Matt Russell had been recently arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after he reportedly registered a blood alcohol content of.246, three times the legal limit.

Russell quickly apologized, and under normal circumstances, that should’ve been that. But then it emerged that another front office member, director of pro personnel Tom Heckert, had also been arrested in June for driving with a blood alcohol content of .162. The problem was, no one in the Broncos’ organization acknowledged that offense until Russell’s came to light.

As always, the coverup trumped the crime. If the team had simply announced the first arrest and taken the necessary actions—discipline, treatment, whatever—the second one would’ve seemed less egregious. (And, as former Bronco Tom Nalen has wisely pointed out, it might never have happened at all.) Instead, by taking the weasel route at a time when NFL players are dominating negative and scandalous headlines, the Broncos executives—i.e., the men who are paid to lead—come off looking tone deaf and arrogant. Get it together, Donkeys.

Rave: Senator Bennet’s Anti-Citizens United Amendment Deserves a Closer Look

Almost two years ago, Democratic Senators Michael Bennet and Tom Udall (N.M., cousin of Colorado’s Mark Udall) proposed a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission case. Better known as the “corporations are people” case, it opened the door to greater political expenditures—often rendered anonymously by shadowy organizations with patriotic-flavored names—by corporations, associations, or labor unions, as long as they aren’t formally allied with specific political campaigns.

Although the Amendment push went nowhere in 2011, it will be back again as the 2014 campaign season unfolds. (That we’re already talking about the 2014 campaign is a topic for another rant.) It still probably will go nowhere, but as swing-state citizens, Coloradans should take note. All those inflammatory, divisive, and often wildly misleading ads that flooded our airwaves in 2011 and 2012 are a direct result of Citizens United, and anyone who contends that they aren’t flat-out poisoning our Democratic process is probably either producing them or benefiting from them. (To see just how toxic these groups and their propaganda can be, check out the August 2013 issue of 5280, which will be on newsstands in about two weeks.)

As journalists, we will always be staunch defenders of the First Amendment: the right to free speech. However, in this particular case, SCOTUS overextended the right so much that now monied interests from both sides of the aisle can hide behind noble-sounding facades while ignobly trashing what we’ve been mythologizing for years as the global paragon of democracy. And even though a Constitutional Amendment would be a long shot, that may be what it takes to restore a system that has stopped being for the people, by the people.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.