The Denver Broncos reported to camp Wednesday hoping to lift the
spirits of a community in mourning over the movie theater massacre
in neighboring Aurora.
Several players visited hospitalized survivors and medical
personnel in the days after a gunman in full body armor opened fire
during the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, leaving 12
dead and 58 injured.
Coach John Fox said the Broncos will do what they can to provide
a measure of comfort to a heavy-hearted community, a role he’s
familiar with from his time with the New York Giants during the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
”Well, we’re going to do our absolute best and we understand
the responsibility that comes with being in the Broncos
organization,” Fox said. ”This region, city, state has great
passion for the team, there’s no doubt. I think our players will
feel that responsibility and it’s something that we’ll talk about
most definitely later today in our team meeting.
”I was in New York when 9-11 occurred and a lot of the victims
really looked to us and (now, others) will look to us here in
Denver, for some uplifting times.”
Quarterback Peyton Manning called eight of the wounded Sunday
and Monday while a dozen of his teammates, decked out in their
orange jerseys, visited hospitalized patients and those who were
Some of those same players had gathered a few weeks ago to honor
the firefighters who were battling Colorado’s deadly wildfires that
destroyed hundreds of homes.
”Well, for some negative things that do happen to occur, our
guys do a whole lot of good and that was part of that, whether it
was the fires or this recent tragedy,” Fox said. ”I’m very proud
of them. They were out there, they want to give back and they want
to somehow lift the spirits.”
Among the players making visits to hospitals in recent days was
Pro Bowl pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, who was arrested earlier this
month on suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
following a traffic dispute in Miami where a witness said he
flashed a gun in his waistband during a confrontation with a female
Dumervil met with the media Wednesday but said he couldn’t talk
about his case: ”I know you guys have a lot of questions, but out
of respect for the investigation, there’s not much I can say,” he
Whether or not charges are filed, Dumervil could find himself
subject to a suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He said
he hasn’t heard from the commissioner.
”Well, I think you’re obviously disappointed any time you’re
involved in a situation like that as an organization,” Fox said.
”Like any situation you’re involved in, you have to gather the
information, find out to the best you can the facts and then let
the process run itself and the truth eventually comes out.”
The Broncos already are preparing for the extended absence of
linebacker D.J. Williams, their top tackler, who is facing a
six-game drug suspension and a drunken driving trial next month
that could sideline him even longer.
”I think it weighs a little bit heavier on the fans’ minds
because looking at those guys, they’re starters, they are key
players,” cornerback Tracy Porter said. ”It weighs on our minds,
too. But we also have the confidence in the guys that back them up
at the positions.”
The Broncos’ first practice is Thursday morning and it’ll be the
first chance for the public to get a glimpse of Manning in orange
He joined the Broncos in March after 14 seasons in Indianapolis.
The Colts released him after he missed all of last year with a
nerve injury in his neck that caused weakness in his throwing arm.
They replaced him with No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck.
The league’s only four-time MVP has looked good in offseason
workouts at Dove Valley, but questions facing him and the Broncos
are how he’ll hold up at age 36 and whether he’ll be the same
player he was before he got hurt and needed four neck operations,
including a fusion.
”Peyton’s done everything humanly possible, both physically and
mentally, to get ready for this,” Fox said. ”I know he’s excited,
the rest of the team’s excited. He’s a tremendous competitor and
we’re very blessed to have him.”
Manning already has had a tangible effect on the Broncos, who
jettisoned the popular but confounding Tim Tebow 24 hours after
signing Manning to a five-year, $96 million deal.
”When you’ve won the MVP that many times and you’ve had the
accomplishments on the field that he has, he can’t help but have
some swagger to him. I think that’s contagious,” Fox said. ”We’ve
said early on that he’s the type of player that raises all boats,
from how they practice, how they approach practice, I’m talking
about his teammates. He’s a very unselfish guy, a great teammate
and that should be a very positive influence on our team.”
The Broncos won the middling AFC West last season at 8-8 when
they were expected to finish last. Now, expectations are that
they’ll not only win the division again but also go deep in the
”It’s very similar to the Super Bowl year we had in New
Orleans,” Porter said. ”We have extremely high expectations on
this team, starting with Peyton all the way down to the last guy on
the roster. Our expectations are not just to get back to the
playoffs or hopefully get to the playoffs, our expectations are to
get to New Orleans to play for the Super Bowl and win the Super
Porter said he spent his last day of vacation visiting patients
who are recovering from wounds they suffered in last Friday’s
”They have my highest condolences, honors and my praise,”
Defensive tackle Ben Garland, a Colorado native and Air Force
graduate, said: ”It was absolutely inspiring to go and meet some
of those people, I mean you’re talking about normal everyday Joes
that cover up and shield their fiancees, girlfriends, wives, take
bullets for a friend, I mean, absolute true American heroes.
”You got to see what Colorado people are all about, and it’s
truly great people who under terrible circumstance rose to the
occasion,” Garland said. ”Colorado will stand strong. We are a
community that will stand strong together.”
Notes: RB Knowshon Moreno and G Chris Kuper, who are coming off
broken legs, will both practice Thursday. … Fox said because of
his pending suspension, Williams won’t get many snaps with the
starters during training camp.
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