ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Multiple Broncos veterans on Wednesday expressed their support for quarterback Russell Wilson and his standing among his teammates.
"I know that I know who Russell is," guard Dalton Risner said. "I respect him so much. I respect the way he integrates within our locker room, and I feel like all year, he hasn't been able to catch a break. People just making up rumors about him, whether that be he's not a good teammate or he's lost the locker room, apparently, or whatever it is.
"A lot of it is just so outlandish to me, because I get to see him work every day. I get to see how much he cares about the guys in the locker room and the devotion he has to this game and the attitude he brings to practice every day and the attitude he brings to the football field. We may not be having a good season, we may be 3-8, but I respect the heck out of Russell Wilson and the way he's leading this football team amongst everything he's had to deal with this year."
Safety Justin Simmons, one of the Broncos' captains, also pushed back on the notion that Wilson does not have the confidence of some players in the locker room.
"Russ is an amazing leader," Simmons said. "He's an amazing teammate. … I just don't see where it comes from, those reports. Russ has been nothing but great. Obviously it hasn't been the season any of us have wanted. I just, I can't fathom thinking of that stuff."
Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said that any reports were "all gossip" to him and that the Broncos have "a fantastic locker room." Just as Risner and Simmons did, Hackett pointed to Wilson's work ethic and dedication to embrace his opportunity with a new team.
"When you look at a guy like Russ, he's unbelievable," Hackett said. "He works — I've never seen somebody work that hard. I've never seen somebody try to embrace a team like he has while he's [been] here, just from everything that he does, from walkthroughs to helping to how he is in the community. Russ is awesome. We just need to do better as a team. It's that simple. All that stuff, it is what it is. I love Russ."
Hackett acknowledged that when a team isn't winning, criticism is bound to follow. In his time working with Wilson, though, he hasn't seen the quarterback be impacted by the negativity.
"That's another thing just to put on the top of the type of guy he is," Hackett said. "When you sign up for this profession — wherever it is, especially a quarterback, certain coaches, certain players — if you lose, you're going to get criticism. It's that simple. The idea is that you've got to keep your head down, you've got to keep working, you've got to do everything you can to put the team in the best position and they've got to feel that and know that. And that's something that Russ does. He doesn't get affected. He keeps coming out here and working. Heck, he may work harder. I didn't think you could. I give him so much credit for that — to keep his head down, keep working with all the different people that he's gone out there on that field with. I just give him so much credit for that — all the different lineups that we've had. He just keeps grinding, keeps trying to make a play, keeps fighting — no matter what."
As Wilson continues to work toward getting the Broncos back to their winning ways, he said the outside attempts to divide the locker room would not succeed.
"Everybody wants to win," Wilson said. "We all want to win. Nobody wants to win more than me and this team and [to do] what we want to be able to do. … Man, I've got great relationships in that locker room. So whoever's trying to tear it down, you can't. The best thing about it is is it's been an amazing journey coming here, moving here, being here."
Wilson mentioned nearly a dozen players by name — on both sides of the football — as examples of those with whom he's developed a bond.
"This is a great team," Wilson said. "We've got great players. I'm honored to be here. I'm honored to play with this team and these guys. There's always noise, especially when things aren't going the way you want it to all the time. The thing is you don't bat an eye. You know that my biggest goal every day is to continue to try to lead at the highest level and to be consistent every day with my approach and to never change and not let the highs of life change you and not let the lows. Just be consistent with your approach and knowing that I love these guys every day and who they are, what they're about and how they impact this community and what they've done. It's a blessing to be on this team, and I'm honored to be a part of it."