Despite skid, Hackett gives Broncos a Thanksgiving gift
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos are 3-7 and mired in a 1-6 skid. But Nathaniel Hackett gave his team a break this week: a Thanksgiving Day off and a walk-through practice to start their on-field work.
“We’re going to have practice [Tuesday] and Wednesday so the guys can have their player-day off on Thursday,”Hackett said.
“I think it’s important. We talk a lot about family and getting people with their families. We want to be sure they get that opportunity to be with their family on Thanksgiving.”
In Broncos annals, such a move is unusual. In fact, the team hasn’t had a Thanksgiving Day off in at least 21 years. During that time, thee always either played or practiced on the holiday, with games in 2001, 2005 and 2009 and practices on every other Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s actually my first time since I’ve been playing college sports having Thanksgiving off, so it’s kind of weird,” said defensive end Dre’Mont Jones.
“So, I’m appreciative of the fact that we get to have the whole day off,” he added a moment later. “I think it’s very considerate of Coach.”
In past years, the Broncos would move up practice and then adjust meetings to allow players to spend the afternoon gathering with family and friends. This was typical under Mike Shanahan, Josh McDaniels, Gary Kubiak, Vance Joseph and Vic Fangio.
But other NFL teams have given their players the holiday off. The Green Bay Packers made this standard operating procedure during Hackett’s years on their staff.
“Coach Hackett, he’s preached family. He’s preached about loving your loved ones all year,” wide receiver Kendall Hinton said. “It’s awesome to see him take action on that, to allow us to be with our families and loved ones for Thanksgiving.”
And then there is the angle of taking a day to escape. While the Broncos reported for work on Tuesday — their usual off-day in the week — they’ll get a respite closer to kickoff than usual.
“I hope guys take advantage and come back focused,” Hinton said.
Added Jones: “I think it’s a good day to have a reset day, just having the whole day off, whoever you spend it with.
So, while there is a benefit on a human level, there could be one from a football perspective, too. Sunday will show whether it helped or not.