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“He’s just a sleaze ball” - Vance Joseph has got to go.

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"But the fact that Joseph, the unlikely and under-qualified head coach of the Denver Broncos, has been allowed to make a clean getaway from his past at C.U. is a scandal in and of itself."

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On September 10th, 2017 subscribers to the Denver Post print edition were delivered an extra insert: an NFL preview edition magazine featuring on its glossy cover the new head coach of the Denver Broncos, Vance Joseph. Superimposed over the photograph of the sharply dressed man were bold white letters reading “Change Agent” with the caption that promised Joseph “brings a fresh approach” to Denver. The headline on the profile for the new coach read “Joseph bent on creating “championship habits.”

Where precisely Vance Joseph acquired the skills to teach “championship habits” was a mystery to Denver Broncos fans. It was certainly not apparent based on his limited coaching pedigree. Joseph had held only one coordinator position in the NFL and only for a season, 2016, when he oversaw the 29th ranked defense of the Miami Dolphins. Prior to that he was a defensive backs coach who had served only brief stints with the Texans, the Bengals and the 49ers.

His first NFL job was with that 49ers team in 2005 as an assistant defensive backs coach on a team Football Outsiders lists as one of the seven worst of all time.

Before that, Joseph fled to Bowling Green State University because his last job was at the University of Colorado where he had been placed on administrative leave in the wake of sexual assault allegations.

2004 was a rough time for the C.U. football program. It was embroiled in a massive recruiting scandal involving accusations of rape by Buffaloes players and recruits. The team was admonished for allowing alcohol to be provided to high schoolers.  Escort services were hired to provide girls for recruitment orgies and Katie Hnida, the team’s female kicker, told Sports Illustrated that she had been raped by a player in 2000.

In 2004 Colorado Governor Roy Romer assigned State Attorney General, Ken Salazar to be the special prosecutor overseeing an investigation into the C.U. football program. The program was taking on water - which is why administrators could ill afford to have a defensive backs coach involved in yet another sex scandal.

At the same time Salazar was opening his investigation, Joseph was accused by two female athletic trainers of inappropriate sexual contact after returning with them to their apartment to drink and smoke weed. They claimed he crashed there and that during the night he crawled naked into each of their beds and rubbed his erect penis against them. Both rejected his advances and ultimately informed the Boulder police. Additionally, Joseph was  investigated for having sex with a third trainer (“victim C”) in the steam room on CU’s campus. But while the investigation started up, Joseph slipped out of Boulder and went to work at Bowling Green.  

With Joseph gone and none of the three athletic trainers willing to file charges it was a clean getaway. But that was thirteen years ago, and clean getaways were common back then.

In 2017 we have seen a remarkable thing happen: Sexual assault and inappropriate sexual contact, past, present and future is being called out everywhere, from Hollywood to the D.C. Beltway. The phrase “no charges were filed” no longer works. America, it seems, is experiencing an awakening. Conduct that has always occurred but had traditionally been swept under the rug is now coming to the fore as scandal after scandal breaks. Producers and actors as well as politicians and journalists are seeing their accusers emerge from the fog of time and finding themselves standing face to face with wrongdoings of the past.

Pundits are calling this the “post-Weinstein era”.

It started with Harvey Weinstein, but then Kevin Spacey was accused, then Louis CK and Roy Moore and Al Franken and now Charlie Rose and John Conyers. And on a local level, in every state in the union, some man who is or was in a position of power is being exposed as having abused that power by forcing himself onto women. And it doesn’t make a difference in the court of public opinion whether these assaults took place two months ago or two decades ago. These men are being cancelled, blackballed, asked to step down and written out of scripts. And that’s a good thing.

Somehow a nerve has been touched when it comes to victims being inappropriately touched. It will be the lasting legacy of 2017.  As a friend of mine with daughters recently said to me: “this is a great time to be the father of a twelve year old girl.” This recent and intense sexual turmoil in America will make it far easier for women to come forward and it will instruct men that there can be severe consequences to uninvited contact. It has been long time coming.

But the fact that Joseph, the unlikely and under-qualified head coach of the Denver Broncos, has been allowed to make a clean getaway from his past at C.U. is a scandal in and of itself. Aside from a robust piece in the Boulder Daily camera, the Denver sports media has (at the behest of the Broncos) ignored Vance Joseph’s past entirely. When Joseph was first hired Broncos PR guru Patrick Smyth told the press: "While we were aware of these accusations, he was not charged with anything from the report filed in 2004.”

Apparently the media hasn’t gotten the memo that it no longer matters whether or not charges were filed. We’re beginning to understand why these things go unreported. It’s because the men hold the power and women fear losing jobs, profile, access and prestige. Often they’re just plain frightened.

The Denver sports media fails to report for many of the same reasons. The TV stations, newspaper and sports talk channels talk x’s and o’s but are afraid to tackle the Vance Joseph sexual assault situation because they know that if they did the Broncos would shut them out, pull their credentials and leave them without access to the team. Not even the rare un-credentialed media members (who refer to the others as “the Dove Valley minions) don’t have the courage to pursue this story.

If Vance Joseph held political office or were a local celebrity of any other type there would be attempts to unearth more information about the C.U. case. To attempt to contact the victims or to otherwise drag the story back into the light. The atmosphere is ripe for that to happen right now but there is no indication that any outlet wants to be the one to pull off the scab.

If the story of the allegations against Joseph are to be pursued it’s likely that the Broncos would terminate him rather than allow him to put that kind of stink on the team. The Broncos have lost seven games in a row. They found a scapegoat in offensive coordinator Mike McCoy but it’s obvious that the problems with the coaching staff run far deeper than just one coordinator. The Broncos are poorly coached from top to bottom. The head coach may eventually be fired for performance reasons but the fact of the matter is he should be removed immediately for reasons having nothing to do with football.

During a meeting with the Boulder police department one of Vance Joseph’s victims said, “even though he had been drinking and had some marijuana he knew exactly what he was doing.” She added, “he’s just a sleaze ball”. The victim went on to say that she felt he should lose his job for what he had done and that she was happy that an investigation was underway. But she didn’t know what we know now - that he would simply slip out of town and that the whole thing would go away. One can only imagine how the victims, wherever they are, felt when they heard that Joseph had become the head coach of the Denver Broncos.

Since the media won’t hold the Broncos’ feet to the fire it’s up to the team to do the right thing. With stories of sexual impropriety breaking literally every single day they have to know that it’s only a matter of time until a “local blogger” gains access to the audiotaped interviews of the victims by the Boulder police department or somehow learns their names and reached out to them for comment. The Broncos would be far better off cutting ties with Vance Joseph before that happens.

Vance Joseph has failed to bring “championship habits” to Denver. What he has brought is the stink of scandal on top of a terrible record. John Elway and company should send a clear message to fans - and to Broncos players - that Dove Valley will not be a safe haven for sex offenders.   

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