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NFL notebook: Former Browns GM Tom Heckert suspended by Broncos after DUI arrest

Associated Press

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The Denver Broncos have suspended two executives who are facing drunken driving charges, including former Browns General Manager Tom Heckert.

Director of player personnel Matt Russell was suspended indefinitely without pay Monday, and director of pro personnel Heckert was suspended for a month without pay.

Both will be provided with confidential treatment and counseling services by the team and will have to comply with those programs before being allowed to return to work, team president Joe Ellis said.

Executive vice president John Elway’s top two advisers were arrested and jailed on suspicion of drunken driving in separate incidents within a month of each other, giving the team its biggest black eye since a videotape scandal cost Canton McKinley graduate Josh McDaniels his job in 2010.

The fallout from the executives’ DUI arrests could very well affect the Broncos on the field as they’ll be without their top two personnel men at a time when player evaluations are paramount.

Elway said that other members of the personnel department “will have to step up and we’ll look at adding possibly somebody else from outside to pick up the slack.”

The Broncos issued the penalties Monday after consulting with the NFL commissioner’s office, which informed them it has no plans to impose additional discipline. Both men still have possible legal ramifications that could affect their future employment with the Broncos, who said they would monitor the legal proceedings in “determining their future standing with the organization.”

Russell, Elway’s right-hand man, was arrested July 6 while celebrating his 40th birthday. He hit two vehicles, including a police SUV in Breckenridge, injuring an officer, and registered a 0.246 percent breath alcohol content, 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.

Bengals sign top draft pick

First-round draft pick Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame signed a four-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals announced the deal Monday. The standout tight end will get about $8.25 million overall, with a $4.3 million signing bonus. His cap number will be about $1.5 million.

Pouncey apologizes

Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey has apologized for wearing a baseball cap supporting former college teammate Aaron Hernandez. Pouncey and his twin brother, Mike, a center for the Miami Dolphins, were photographed wearing hats that read “Free Hernandez” during their co-birthday party in Miami on Saturday night.

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