Risner: “The crazy thing that no one’s writing about is, 2 minutes later, Brett and I hugged and talked it out for about a minute because we’re brothers.”
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Guess who had breakfast together Monday morning at the Broncos’ team cafeteria?
Dalton Risner and Brett Rypien.
This after they texted each other Sunday night. Are we good? Of course, we’re good.
“Now, did I handle it right?” Risner said Monday in an interview with 9NEWS. “Should I have pushed Brett away from me? No I shouldn’t have. But emotions were running high. We’re both trying to do what’s best for our teammates. I’m trying to be there for my O-Line and Brett’s trying to be there for the quarterback and it’s just an emotional time.
“I was surprised by how everyone ran with how we’re against each other and we’ve lost the team. Brett and I, the crazy thing that no one’s writing about is, 2 minutes later, Brett and I hugged and talked it out for about a minute because we’re brothers and we’ve both talked since then. We understand that we’re competitors and that we were frustrated and we want to be better. It’s because we care and want to be better.
“It’s just so tough that it’s turned into this thing of losing the locker room and we don’t care. No, Brett and I are in that conversation because we both care so much. Minutes after we’re hugging, we’re clearing the air and we’re rocking n rolling. We respect each other so much.”
It was late third quarter Christmas Sunday, the Broncos were down 34-6 and quarterback Russell Wilson, who had already thrown three interceptions by then, had been sacked on back-to-back plays for a three-and-out. Ba Humbug. Back to the sidelines after a punt, Rypien, the backup quarterback, came to the defense of his besieged, battered and beleaguered fellow quarterback. Rypien moved over to where the offense was gathering and said something that upset Risner.
Rypien said something to the effect the offensive line had to help Wilson up after he was getting knocked down. Risner admitted afterward that he misheard Rypien, believing the quarterback instead said something to the effect of “stop giving up sacks.”
Risner became angry, and he and Rypien got into a heated exchange in front of the camera’s view while a fan’s cellphone caught Risner using his left hand to shove Rypien back. That brought in running back Latavius Murray, who stopped Risner with a one-handed push.
At that point, Risner settled down, as Cam Fleming stepped in to help hold back his fellow blocker back while rookie Montrell Washington stepped in front of Rypien.
“I’m not mad that (the video) surfaced,” Risner said. “Because I have nothing to hide. I’m not going to hide the frustration on the sideline when we’re losing 51-14. This football is not for the soft. This is a tough sport. You work really hard to succeed and when you don’t, frustrations are going to flare. What would you think if everyone was sitting on the sidelines not caring? For me, it’s we care. That was unacceptable.”
Truth is, verbal spats between teammates happen more often than people think. They happen on good teams, too. Teams that are winning the game. The push was a bit extreme but, as Risner suggested, the makeup bro-hugs didn’t get the same play. What happened was the dustup was viewed as a symptom of all that’s wrong with the Broncos. They are 4-11 in part because, see, they’re not together. Add in outside linebacker Randy Gregory losing his cool with two unsportsmanlike penalties and a postgame haymaker at an opponent and the Risner-Rypien exchange manifested into a narrative this is an undisciplined, leaderless team.
And while so many unfortunate events and losses conspired to cause team owner Greg Penner to fire head coach Nathaniel Hackett on Monday morning, Risner felt bad he was involved in an incident that was misunderstood as dissension among the troops.
“We sat down and had breakfast today,” Risner said of Rypien. “I have no problem with taking on my shoulders that I shouldn’t have pushed Brett away from me. I shouldn’t have gotten mad. I don’t care what the situation is, I know I’ve got to be a better version of myself . I love the team. I love the coaches. I love the organization. I’ve been here for four years. I grew up here (in Wiggins). I love this place. And that’s why it happens because I care so much and guess what? Brett Rypien cares a lot, too. What I thought about when I woke up today was, yes, I wish that wouldn’t have happened. Ryp even told me, I knew it wasn’t going to happen we just wouldn’t ‘t have talked. I said, yeah but it happened because we both care. It’ just sad that they captured Brett and I in our scuffle but they didn’t capture us making up.”
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