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New Russ Rumor Triggers Verbal Altercation in Broncos Locker Room

Mile High Huddle on FanNation 12/2/2022 Ron White
© Provided by Mile High Huddle on FanNation

A snapshot inside the Denver Broncos locker room is worth a thousand words.

After a 23-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Denver Broncos have hit rock bottom. Given the team's current state of affairs, there is plenty of blame to go around, from the coaching incompetence and faltering offensive line to the lack of separation from wide receivers. 

However, one issue that has been the topic of conversation is the leadership and play of Russell Wilson. According to an incendiary report by insider Tom Pelissero, which stirred up a lot of drama in Denver, Wilson has become a "punchline." 

"One of the things that I've consistently heard about it, Nathaniel Hackett, for everything that's gone wrong, and everything that people are saying about his job right now, he has not lost that locker room," Pelissero said in a conversation with Mike Garafolo. "Russ has lost some people around that team. He has lost some people in that locker room.”

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There has been speculation that Wilson's performance and the Broncos' demands have contributed to a divided locker room. This is very telling for several reasons. 

Outside of the head coach, the quarterback receives heavy criticism when a team loses a game and/or when it's underperforming. This could suggest that Wilson, the 'co-author' of this offense, is not leveraging his talents to put this team in a position to be successful. 

Another reason could potentially be Wilson's demands from the team. When the blockbuster Wilson trade was announced, it was reported that he had stipulations, such as wanting his own office at Broncos HQ. 

The Broncos acquiesced. This superior posturing could cause alienation and tension in the locker room, as it can be interpreted that Wilson placed himself above his teammates.

Despite this, Hackett was quick to dismiss the rumors of Wilson losing the locker room. 

“I heard that a little bit," Hackett acknowledged of the rumor earlier this week. "To me, it’s all gossip. We have a fantastic locker room. When you look at a guy like Russ, he’s unbelievable. He works—I’ve never seen somebody work that hard and never seen somebody try to embrace a team like he has while he’s here."

Wilson was also quick to shoot down the rumors. 

“I have great relationships in that locker room. Whoever is trying to tear it down, you can’t. I think the best thing about it is that it’s been an amazing journey coming here, moving here and being here," Wilson said on Wednesday. "There is always noise, especially when things aren’t going the way you want it to all the time. The thing is that you don’t bat an eye. My biggest goal every day is to continue to try to lead at the highest level, to be consistent every day with my approach and to never change.”

There are Broncos players that still support Wilson. This became apparent when many teammates attended a party to help celebrate the embattled QB's 34th birthday earlier this week. 9NEWS' Mike Klis reported that Wilson's party was attended by "about half the team."

"Um, by the way, Russ. About the report on this birthday Tuesday that claimed Wilson has 'lost' a few teammates in the Broncos’ locker room. The report circulated as many of his teammates gathered for a surprise birthday his wife Ciara put on. One person put it at about half the team – impressive attendance on the players' day off."

While the details aren't clear, this triggered a controversial incident in the Broncos locker room, with reporters present, where veteran safety and team leader Justin Simmons verbally accosted Klis, ostensibly in support of Wilson, according to multiple reports. Despite the positive remarks from teammates, it's still hard to determine with certainty whether the Broncos' locker room is sticking together, especially after defensive tackle Mike Purcell's verbal altercation with Wilson on the sideline in Week 12. 

Simmons was much more composed at the podium on Wednesday when he addressed Pelissero's explosive report on Wilson. 

“I’ll say this. I’ll say Russ is an amazing leader," Simmons said. "He’s an amazing teammate and leadership never fall solely on one guy. I know that the quarterback position is always at the top of every football team. It’s a quarterback-driven league, but leadership never falls on one guy. We have really good leaders here. What’s happening right now with the team—just this season—falls under the umbrella of a bunch of different guys—myself included. I don’t know where that report would have come from.”

In sports, team cohesion is synonymous with winning. When that chemistry is off, the head coach should be the leader to turn the ship around. 

However, despite how many Broncos players are reportedly still bought in on Hackett, his obvious incompetence on the field makes it hard to maintain leadership credibility. That puts the onus on Wilson to step in to maintain a positive relationship with his teammates and steer this team back in a winning direction. 

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