One of the more interesting traditions to observe as a Broncos fan was the offensive line’s refusal to talk to the press at all (with the rare exception of Super Bowl weeks and a quote or two in training camp). This is why, when the Broncos were featured on Sunday night games on NBC, Al Michaels had to read off the offensive line starters’ names, as Tom Nalen, Matt Lepsis, and crew would not do the pre-production taping of saying their names and their schools for them. In recent years, the line would appoint one member per week to speak to the media for them as a whole. However, like so many other things in the NFL, Lord Rog has deemed this practice unacceptable, and the O-Line Omerta will no longer be tolerated.
The Denver Post piece is interesting for the origins of the practice — like much having to do with recent Bronco success, it starts with former lineman Gary Zimmerman:
He had stopped talking to the Minnesota press while he was with the Vikings and carried the silent treatment with him to Denver in 1993. When Alex Gibbs joined Mike Shanahan’s new coaching staff in 1995, the media boycott became common law among all Broncos blockers.
“It fit the personality of the job,” Zimmerman said from his Bend, Ore., home. “Lineman is a very humble job and you need to remain that way. If you’re plastered all over the media, it’s hard to remain humble.”
The whole tradition wound up being its own kind of cool joke, albeit one with a consequence for violation ($1,000 per infraction), but the guys liked it. Now, Goodell’s rule mandates players be available at least once a week and after games, and while it’s actually not the biggest thing in the new media policy (I’d say the new way of reporting injuries will make more of an impact, cutting down on the tinkering of folks like Bill Belichick with injury reports), the “whoa” factor of these big, silent dudes on the O-Line was a nice side aspect of being a Broncos fan; rooting for tackles and guards who did their talking by laying defensive players out.
New policy unzips lips of Broncos’ O-line [Denver Post]