Just days after the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group officially purchased the Denver Broncos in August, they made their first big hire by selecting Damani Leech, a two-decade veteran of the sports industry, to become the team's new president.
Leech spent 17 years with the NCAA, during which he oversaw the College World Series, followed by seven years expanding the NFL's international division as an executive with the NFL league office. With this wealth of experience, Sports Business Journal’s Ben Fischer noted that Leech brings a unique perspective to the Broncos.
"As chief operating officer of NFL International before joining the Broncos, Leech worked in a strategically important division that also brought him into near-daily contact with numerous clubs as the league's international home marketing area program came into focus," Fischer wrote. "He overcame pandemic challenges and deep skepticism from many teams to launch the international marketing program, which started with 18 of 32 teams applying to join. The NFL's international division, while nascent, touches every part of the business. Leech's former boss, Executive Vice President Peter O'Reilly, said that breadth of experience and football operations experience makes him especially well-suited for team leadership — where he runs a complex business but also must work closely with general manager George Paton, head coach Nathaniel Hackett and the owners."
Leech told Fischer that his background with the league office pairs well with the local perspective of his staff, and makes for a more holistic approach to leading the organization.
"[The staff is] hyper-local, and they really understand the market and the history of the team, and they're educating me on all of those things," Leech said. "I'm asking them questions quite naturally rooted in the national perspective, and that's been a really good balance so far."
Because of the NFL's international program that Leech helped create, Fischer noted that the Broncos have rights in Mexico and will look to expand into new markets. With Leech's expertise in the NFL's global expansion initiatives, the Broncos are well-equipped to explore international opportunities.
"Our competitive landscape is the world," Leech said. "It's not Colorado or the U.S. When we talk about Broncos Country, that's not just Denver, it's not just Colorado. It's our fans around the world."
Below the Fold
Through the first five weeks of the season, the Broncos' secondary continues to shine. Cornerback Pat Surtain II and safety Caden Sterns were both selected for Pro Football Focus’ team of the week after strong performances against the Colts.
Surtain earned PFF's highest coverage grade among all cornerbacks in Week 5, with a grade of 91.1. Sterns, filling in for Justin Simmons at free safety, recorded his first two interceptions of the season.