Coach's Corner - Mike Shanahan 1/2/07

Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan met with the local media this afternoon to discuss the tragic death of Darrent Williams. Check out the full transcript...

Opening remarks
"First of all, I would like to thank the entire Denver community for the ongoing support for Darrent and the Denver Broncos. It is very touching, very real and I appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers that have been given to Darrent and his family and obviously the Broncos in general. And (thanks) to the Denver Police Department and their ongoing investigation to this tragedy and the hard work that they have been doing over the last couple days. I can't comment obviously to the details of what is going on because of the investigation, so at this time if anybody would like to ask any questions relative to Darrent and his family or the process that is going on, I would be happy to talk about it."

On how he is holding up
"It is always tough any time you deal with somebody that is part of your family. (Darrent) is just a class young man that I care an awful lot for, and it's tough. It is really hard. I think our team is holding up as good as possible under these circumstances. I had a chance to talk to Darrent's mother, and she is doing as well as can be expected. She is a very strong woman with a strong family, and we will have a memorial service tomorrow with our players and coaches and obviously Darrent's family. We will go over a few stories and obviously what Darrent meant to our players and get a chance to share that with his mother and family and immediate family. Then Saturday, we will take a plane and our entire football team will go down to Fort Worth, where the services will be on Saturday. We will do that as a team."

On what kind of man Darrent Williams was
"Darrent was a guy that was always upbeat. He always had a smile. He was a fierce competitor, and to have a guy that wasn't afraid of anything… (He was) just a guy that looked forward to competing on Sundays, and for a young guy, you really never know if a guy is going to come in and play at the level that you hope he is going to play at. This guy was undersized at 5'8", and the reason why we loved him so much coming out of college was he did a great job on special teams and we knew he could come in and start as a nickel back because he was so tough and hard nosed and so quick. He made so many plays. He also was tough and quick on the outside, but at 5'8" you are never really sure if a guy can hold off but he proved to us very quickly that he could handle his own outside and he impressed our veterans as much as he did the coaches, especially the coaches that had some reservations early. The players knew right away way that we had a football player. He did things at the Boys and Girls Club and for the kids that a lot of times go unnoticed. He would just show up at the Boys and Girls Club because he wants to hang around kids. Every game you would look at him and he (gave you) confidence as a coach. He said, ‘Coach, you can count on me for making a play because I want to get it done,' so there are so many good stories about Darrent and his personality, his drive and his feelings for his kids. He wanted to make sure that his mom was taken care of. This was a chance for him to do something special for his family and his son and his daughter, which we will talk about a little bit later."

On what he said to Williams' mother yesterday
"Well, I will probably break up. Maybe in a little bit I will be able to tell that story."

On how the rest of the team is grieving
"Kind of like they should. Everybody feels about Darrent the way I do. I don't think he had a guy that wasn't his friend. It is just the way he was liked. He always had a smile on his face. As you talk about it, you never know why God takes somebody, but I know one thing he got somebody pretty special with Darrent."

On if he has ever lost a player before
"I lost a player named Stacey Toran (safety) when I was with the Raiders in an automobile accident and it happened very early in the season (Aug. 5, 1989). It was a very tough time."

On how he received the news of Williams' death
"I was called at about three o'clock in the morning and was told what had happened. (Broncos Vice President of Public Relations) Jim (Saccomano) called me."

On what was discussed at the team meeting Tuesday morning
"We talked about a number of things. We didn't talk about anything with the offseason. We talked about Darrent Williams, the services, the memorial, and that he is in a better place right now and it is hard to understand that he is gone. He is a good man and he is up in heaven right now."

On if he worries about his players as they leave for the offseason
"Well, we will get a chance to spend some time tomorrow. We will get a chance to spend some time Friday. We will get a chance to spend some time obviously at the service on Saturday. I think that it will be very special for our football team to be there as a group and to not only support Darrent's memory but his mom, and we are going to have everybody in the organization obviously go. It is something that our players feel very strongly about as well as our coaches. It is something that is tough to do, but it is something that we do as a family."

On the type of relationship he had with Darrent
"Well I brought him in here early when he was drafted, and he was the type of guy that there were some question marks about Darrent. So I brought him in here and asked him about some of those questions, and I felt so good about him when he left I said, ‘Hey, I am just hoping he is here with our first pick in the second round because he is a first-round guy.' I am just hoping that he is here because he is everything that you look for. After my conversation with him and Joe DeForest, who was one of his coaches (at Oklahoma State), I said I just hope that we get lucky, and we did get lucky."

On what kind of support systems are set up for the team to help players deal with their grieving
"We have some counselors who are obviously professionals in that area. They were here yesterday, and they were here today. They have talked to a number of players and to a number of people, and you can see why you need those people in times like this because they have done a great job."

On how WR Javon Walker is holding up
"I think Javon is holding up as good as he could possibly hold up under the circumstances. I talked to Javon today. He just went through a tragic experience. A lot of times when somebody has that happen to them, they wonder why it happened to him – to Darrent – and not to him. It's just human nature. Obviously, the counselors are talking with him about that. It's a process. It takes some time. I'm not an expert in that area, by no means, but it was interesting to talk to these people and it's going to take some time."

On the football family
"It is family. These people care about each other. We've got a special group of guys here. You could see that right from the start, that these guys are something special. There is huge grieving going on."

On what type of preparation players are given about how to conduct themselves in public
"The NFL does a great job with the rookie symposium. They have it for four or five days, and they go through all those scenarios as well as we do as an organization. We're not naïve as to what goes on out on the streets. We understand that these athletes are celebrity status, what could possibly happen, so this is an ongoing process with communication between our organization and the NFL. It's something that you've got to constantly do and make people aware of because these things do happen."

On whether he's even had to speak to a player about his conduct in public
"That's what coaches do. It's part of the job to have a clue who your players are and how they handle themselves. Obviously, you can't control all situations out there, but it's part of the process that you communicate with your players."

On whether he has seen the items people have left in memory of Williams in front of the Broncos' training facility
"To be honest, I've seen it on TV. I haven't walked out there myself, but I've seen different shots. That's why I started out this press conference with thanking people for their support and how strong people feel about Darrent and obviously the tragedy that we're going through at this time."

On carrying on Darrent Williams' dream to make a difference in the lives of kids
"We're going to do a number of things. I hate to get into detail about that, but you can rest assured that we're going to work on Darrent's dreams and make sure that they are fulfilled."

On whether players will speak at the team's memorial service tomorrow
"Yes, that's exactly what it is. Players that would like to share some of their stories within the organization with Darrent's immediate family will get a chance to do that. A number of players came to me today and said that they felt very strongly that we have a memorial service where players could share with Darrent's mom and immediate family what Darrent meant to them, reflect some stories on what he has done that she might not be aware of. This didn't surprise me because that's the type of players we have. We'll get that done tomorrow."

On how he'll deal with player security going forward
"We had somebody talk to our football team today – talked about security, talked about the procedures that we're going through right now. This is part of a murder investigation, and that's one of the reasons why I can't get into a lot of details about the security standpoint and what exactly did go on. But you can rest assured that we're going to cooperate with the police as much as possible and hopefully find the person that did this."

On whether he feared bad news when his phone rang so late at night
"To be honest with you, you take a look at New Year's. You're not sure if family members are calling or somebody's stuck. To be honest with you, I didn't think about it."

On which of Willams' family members he spoke with
"I talked to his stepbrother and one of his cousins, but I did not talk to his son and his daughter."

On whether Williams' two children will be present at tomorrow's memorial service
"I'm not sure. I know they're going to be there, obviously, Saturday. I'm not sure what Mrs. Williams' plans are, but she knows that anything that she wants, she'll have."

On having some type of tribute next season
"We talked about that. There's a number of different thoughts right now. With the memorial and the service Saturday and what's gone on here in the last 24, 48 hours, there will be something done, but we haven't decided on what. But his memory will be there for a lot of years. We will think of something. A lot of different ideas at this time. I'd hate to say what they are because it would be a little bit premature."

On who will be speaking at Saturday's funeral
"I talked to his mom today about the memorial service, and she had asked me if I would speak. I told her I'd be happy to speak as well as I can under the circumstances. I'm not sure exactly who else is scheduled to speak."

On how CB Domonique Foxworth is holding up
"I talked to Domonique last night a little bit. I think he's like everybody else – stunned, shocked, doesn't make any sense – but he's hanging in there as well as possible."

On how the Broncos will overcome tragedy in the long run
"Any time you deal with death, obviously it's something that is hard to talk about. It's hard to deal with. It's something that you don't really prepare yourself for. But as I was trying to say before, it's something where he's in a better place right now. The football standpoint, that obviously doesn't matter."



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