The Denver Broncos are back at the team facility for the first time since the end of the season today, as voluntary offseason workouts are now underway.
Upon their arrival, they’ll be greeted by a new coaching staff, led by a new head coach in Nathaniel Hackett.
As is his default, Hackett is thrilled to get started in his first head coaching job, and he wants his players to feel that same way about coming to work.
“You want them to feel an environment that they want to come into, and they’re excited to come into,” he told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer on Saturday. “That’s all you can do, that’s what you’re trying to create. My philosophy is I want everything we’re doing now—it’s voluntary, it’s all voluntary, so I want them to be excited to come into the building. That’s my job; my job is to make it so that they’re like, ‘Hey, I’m really excited to come, and say hi, and ask questions and learn a new system, and get ready to win some football games.'”
If the players are enthusiastic about coming to work and learning, one would think they might end up performing better. It’s not a far-fetched principle. Plus, it makes even more sense as Hackett supports his belief in the value of such an environment with a sentiment anyone who has ever been a student could agree with.
“Even when I went back to the teachers I had growing up with, through college and high school, it was the class you loved the most where the teachers were the most exciting and the most fun,” Hackett said. “I just wanted to bring that once I got my opportunity in 2010 [at Syracuse], and I think that was a big part of how all the places I’ve been are; we’ve kind of unified people together. The ability to get up and just talk and communicate and be strong and exciting and fun is, that’s just something I’ve always had.
“So when people say, ‘What are you going to do in that first meeting?’ It’s like, ‘I don’t know, s—, I’m going to have a PowerPoint and I’m going to be me.’ And half the time, I never know what’s going to happen up there. Because you gotta feel the room. You can’t say, ‘It’s going to be like this.’ You can’t say, ‘It’s going to be that.'”
One thing that is sure to be different from the Fangio is the importance of a dialogue between the players and coaches for Hackett.
“You don’t want to speak to people, you want to have it be an open forum, always,” Hackett told Breer. “The guys that I’ve heard that are the best speakers are guys like Bill Clinton. The reason why, I can be in a room, you’re dealing with football, you’re dealing with every personality, we’re talking alpha males, we’re talking from every different background, and you have to be able to get up and speak to every single one of them. I think that that’s something that people have always said that Bill Clinton was so great at. He could go into a room, and he could talk to so many people. [Barack] Obama, when he looks at you and he talks to you, it’s like he’s talking to you individually, even though you’re surrounded by people that might not be like you.”
With all that said, Hackett still understands the seriousness of the position he is tasked with managing. Broncos Country is justifiably demanding results after years spent wandering the desert, and they won’t be satisfied with another suspect season.
“I don’t think that exists anymore,” Hackett said. “I think in this profession, because of the way that society is, everybody wants to win now. Look at what happened in Jacksonville. We jumped in, we win, the next year we’re supposed to win the Super Bowl and I’m losing my job. So it’s like wherever you enter in, you gotta win, or you at least have to show signs of getting better and showing improvement to be able to win. You can’t be getting blown out. You can’t look like a fool. You gotta have people in sync, working together. And as a leader, you have to point that out.”