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Everything we learned from Denver Broncos owner Greg Penner in his end-of-season press conference

Henry Chisholm Avatar
January 10, 2024

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos held end-of-season press conferences on Tuesday, with head coach Sean Payton, general manager George Paton and owner and CEO Greg Penner all taking the stage.

Here’s what we learned from Broncos owners and CEO Greg Penner…

Penner thinks the Broncos took a step forward

Penner isn’t thrilled with how the 2023 played out.

“We grade ourselves by our winning record, and this year, we didn’t meet our expectations,” Penner said. “I think back to when we were 1-5. I’m having sleepless nights and thinking, ‘Is this season a bust?’”

He sees some silver linings, though.

“We improved our win total,” Penner said. “I expect that to go up next year. We broke some key streaks. It was great to get the win against the Chiefs. We have some other humps to get over in the future. We had some young players emerge and significant improvement in special teams. On the medical side, we haven’t talked about that much, but last year [at] the end of the season, we were really clear that we had to improve that for next year. “

The bottom line is that more needs to be done.

“The main message for Broncos Country that I would have is we’re just as impatient as you are to win here,” Penner said. “We understand that we have a lot of work to do this offseason to get better.”

Penner is happy with how his team handled the Russell Wilson saga

Russell Wilson’s contract has been the subject of discussion in recent weeks, but Penner thinks his staff—primarily George Paton—handled the negotiation properly.

“George communicated to me that he thought it was a constructive conversation,” Penner said. “I believe the approach to Russell’s agent was done in a constructive way. It just didn’t lead to an agreement.”

Paton may not have handled the situation perfectly, though.

“Anytime you have a situation like this, and you try to have these conversations, it’s not always going to be easy,” Penner said. “You always look back and there’s different ways you can handle things. I’m sure in this case, we could have done some things in a different way. Again, our goal was to try and see if there was a nice, constructive path forward that was amenable to both parties.”

Penner doesn’t see any issue with the current setup, in which Paton and head coach Sean Payton have virtually equal power in player personnel decisions.

“It’s been a year now, and I thought it worked really well, especially the partnership between Sean and George,” Penner said of the structure at the top of the Broncos. “That relationship between head coach and GM is critical. I was impressed with the way that they handled going from free agency to the draft.”

Penner reiterated that he doesn’t want to get involved in decisions relating to football.

“As CEO, I want to be briefed and know what’s going on,” he said. “That being said, I entrust people to do their jobs, and I don’t coach the football team. I don’t call the agents or have negotiations on player contracts.”

(For more on what the Broncos’ brass had to say about Wilson’s future, CLICK HERE.)

He learned a lot at practice

Penner is the chairman of Walmart, but he doesn’t have much history in sports. He’s learning quickly, though.

Penner has found in his second season that practice is a place where he can learn quickly.

“I get a chance to visit with Sean about plays he’s running,” Penner said. “I talk to George about what’s going on with different players. I’ll have a conversation with [Vice President of Player Health & Performance] Beau [Lowery] on the medical side. [Assistant Head Coach Mike] Westhoff will tell me how he’s teaching kickers how to kick. It’s a lot of those little things.”

New uniforms are on the way… eventually

Penner didn’t announce new uniforms on Tuesday.

“We’ll be having some things coming there in the future, but nothing to announce today.”

The new uniforms take time to create.

“I just figured when you wanted to change your uniforms, you just made a new uniform,” Penner said. “But boy, it’s a several-year process with the league and Nike to get there.”

Rumors surrounding new uniforms have swirled for years, so they could be ready by this season.

He has no new updates on the stadium

The Broncos have sent surveys to season-ticket holders and other fans about a potential new stadium, but Penner didn’t have any new updates on Tuesday.

“We’re continuing to evaluate options,” he said. “It’s a long-term, complex question of what we end up doing there.”

The Broncos are under contract with their current stadium through 2032, so there’s no rush. New stadiums usually take four years or less to build.

The Broncos invested $400 million into their current stadium last offseason, and Penner is happy with how it turned out.

“I was pleased with the impact of the upgrades that we made this last offseason. I think that fans, from the feedback that we got, appreciated it as well.”

He’s excited for the new practice facility

While a new stadium will have to wait, the Broncos announced a new team headquarters in November.

“Our building right now is actually great. The challenge is as it gets older, we kept putting more and more money in it to keep it up to the standard that it needed to be at,” Penner said. “It has also gotten small, and it’s very difficult to expand. We really wanted to have an opportunity to bring more of our business folks down from the stadium, get people in one building, and then have a building that’s really player-focused and central. It’s all about the players. Instead of having the main building, the strength and conditioning area, and the practice facility, we’ll pull it all together. The spaces are going to be terrific. We think it’ll raise the expectations for the players and the organization.”

(Click here for more on the new facility.)

(Click here for everything Sean Payton said on Tuesday.)

(Click here for everything George Paton said on Tuesday.)

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