Schon: Al Wilson & Champ Bailey benched

Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan benches defensive starters Al Wilson and Champ Bailey prior to Saturday night's game against Tennessee for curfew violations.

It may only be the second game of the preseason, but when it comes to discipline, Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan doesn't budge.

Case in point – the benching of defensive stars Al Wilson and Champ Bailey, for curfew violations Friday night.

As is the team practice throughout the year, all players stay together at a local hotel the night before home games, studying game film and making the necessary mental preparations for the following day. A curfew is put in place and all players, regardless of stature with the team, are expected to abide by that curfew.

Preseason is no exception, and Wilson and Bailey found that out the hard way.

While he wouldn't elaborate on the issue, Shanahan's point was made when he informed the two stars they would be watching in street clothes.

"What happened is we have a team rule for curfew," Shanahan explained during his post game press conference. "They missed curfew, and if you miss curfew you don't play. You don't start, and that's why they didn't suit up today."

Despite being benched, both players were in attendance Saturday night and both spent time in the locker room after the game, although neither one addressed the media regarding the situation.

"Those are two guys that we're gong to count on," Jake Plummer told reporters. "I don't think it's something we have to worry about too much, this is a team that's going to rely on each other. I don't really worry about Al and Champ."

Considering their character, considering their situation and considering Mike Shanahan – there really isn't much to be concerned with. The head coach even joked with reporters who questioned the fact that if this had happened during the regular season, would the punishment have been the same?

"I don't know, do you think we should sit them down for the season? – that might be pretty drastic."

This is the first time either player has been disciplined since joining the Broncos.

Suffice it to say – lesson learned.

Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past ten years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.

Schon can be reached at

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