Don’t call us Ismael, Greg Penner, but call Peyton Manning and me to serve on your head coach quest committee.
We volunteer. A couple of ol’ boys from Tennessee who live in and love Colorado recognize remarkable coaches and rotten coaches. We used to discuss them in the Broncos’ locker room.
George Paton had a comprehensive chance to pick a Broncos head coach, and he and his franchise flunkies failed futilely and fully. By George, the GM admitted “full responsibility’’ Tuesday.
At the day-after press conference Penner said the new head coach will report to him, not Paton, who has proven he can’t be trusted because of these names: Hackett, Russell Wilson, Randy Gregory, Melvin Gordon, Nik Bonitto, Montrell Washington, Josh Johnson and too many others to mention. Paton also approved of the hirings of key assistants Dwayne Stukes and Butch Barry (fired with Hackett), Justin Outten, John Vieira and Brad Miller.
Upon Nathaniel’s selection, his father and longtime NFL assistant Paul Hackett told me his son would not interview any coaching aspirants older than 39. The entire staff would be too inexperienced. Paton didn’t stop the stupidity, but supported it as Hackett was exposed in training camp, exhibitions and, particularly, the regular season.
Hackett lost 11 of 15 games and lost control of his undisciplined and dysfunctional team that led the league only in penalties and arguments and fights on the sideline. Hackett was way in over his head and never figured out how to coach Russell Wilson and the offense, and even lied about the scheme the Broncos would employ and exploit defenses. No wonder that a Broncos offensive player told me what was wrong. “We have no idea what we are doing.’’
The franchise’s former faithful followers detected the dilemmas and difficulties before Paton did. Fans booed early and often, even chanted down the play clock, left the stadium in the fourth quarter when games were glove-tight and headed for overtime and finally just quit going to the stadium, and gave away tickets or sold $150 seats for $10.
Penner, et al., received the message, but still weren’t planning any changes until the Christmas Day Debacle disgraced and demeaned the new ownership in front of their billionaire friends and Aspen neighbors.
The Walmart board chairman got it half right. Hackett is history; Paton still is in power. Both are “Peter Principle’’ prime paradigms who rose to their “level of respective incompetence.’’
Peyton & Paige can prevent Penner & Paton from again making a monumental mistake.
Manning is a Hall of Fame quarterback who played for six coaches in a distinguished career and reached four Super Bowls, and won two, with four different head coaches. He obviously knows more about football than Paton and Hackett, Penner and Partners ever will.
Even if Manning has declined to be a Broncos minority shareholder or president of football operations, he, not Penner, should be in charge of the search for the Broncos’ 19th head coach.
Humbly but seriously, I should be Peyton’s, not Paton’s, second in command on the committee.
I’ve covered the Broncos longer than anyone else, since 1974, have been at the Broncos’ two headquarters and practice fields for more training camps than everyone working for the franchise, and I’m the only press person who has been integrally involved in all eight of the Broncos’ Super Bowls from 1977-2015. I’ve known 13 Broncos head coaches — from Lou Saban to Hackett. I did the last interview with John Ralston before he died and the first one-on-one interviews with Mike Shanahan, Josh McDaniels and Vic Fangio when they became Broncos head coaches. I drove Gary Kubiak to church when he was a rookie, had a drink with John Fox when he came to Our Dusty Old Cowtown, played golf with Dan Reeves regularly, was friends with Wade Phillips and Shanahan and hung out with Red Miller. I was there for the Broncos’ trips to the top (in 1977 and with Elway and Manning) and to the bottom (2016-now).
I wrote the first columns that Shanahans (first Mike, then Kyle) be named Broncos head coaches and the only column a year ago that Mike McDaniel should be Broncos head coach), and I’ve demanded the firing of Ralston, McDaniels, Joseph, Fangio and Hackett.
Don’t call us losers. Peyton, Paige and Penner would produce the perfect pick.