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Russell Wilson Reveals Truth Behind Altercation with Mike Purcell

The wheels are coming off the Denver Broncos bus.
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Although fans and media alike could be forgiven for the impulse to avert their eyes, you might have missed something that unfolded on the Denver Broncos' sideline that laid bare the realities of this team's situation. 

On Sunday, as the Broncos fell to the Carolina Panthers, 23-10, early in the fourth quarter, defensive tackle Mike Purcell could be seen by the CBS Sports broadcast cameras jawing in the face of quarterback Russell Wilson. The heated exchange occurred just moments after the Panthers had put another field goal on the board and Purcell had been flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty. 

Purcell could be seen leaving the field, and as soon as he crossed into sideline territory, he bolted suddenly in Wilson's direction, gesticulating aggressively while the veteran quarterback could be seen calmly saying something in return. 

Although it's unclear what triggered Purcell's apparent wrath (as of the publishing of this article), both players addressed the altercation post-game. 

"Mike and I are on the same page," Wilson said from the podium. "He came off after they kicked the field goal, and he was pissed off. He just said, 'We've gotta f-ing go.' And I agree. Me and him are on the same page. There's no animosity there at all. We're on the same page. We've got to win. We've got to come out here and have some grit to us, some mentality to us. We've got to be able to win these football games. Those guys are out there battling on every play. On offense, we've got to be able to capitalize. So, yeah, there's nothing there at all. Me and him—there's nothing there."

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For his part, Purcell acknowledged that the spat was the product of frustration and the Broncos' dire need for a "spark."

"Frustration. We want to spark on something," Purcell said post-game from his locker, courtesy of 9NEWS' Rod Mackey. "We're all in this together. Period. That's the quarterback of our offense. They were about to take the field. Obviously, we gave up a touchdown, so we weren't doing our job. But we've got to get a spark somewhere. So they were about to take the field. That's all it was."

Purcell was asked for additional context on whether something was said between the two players that triggered him. 

"No, I had just gotten the penalty on the field goal block," Purcell said. "Frustrated for everything. We didn't do our job on defense. Hats off to them. They ran the ball. We just weren't good enough." 

Purcell's frustration is understandable. Wilson and the Broncos' offense were impotent in Carolina and really seemed to hit rock bottom. 

With more than half of the second quarter in the books, the Broncos had minus-1 yards passing. And it didn't get much better from there.

Each time the Broncos' defense or special teams unit would create an opportunity, the offense would botch it and fail to capitalize. Even the offense's own big plays were snuffed out by untimely turnovers, as evidenced by Latavius Murray's 52-yard romp that took the Broncos deep into Panthers' territory. Two plays later, Wilson was strip-sacked, and the Panthers recovered. In the red zone. 

The Broncos managed to put a touchdown on the board in garbage time, but the 13-point losing margin is the most so far this season. This was truly the first game where the Broncos weren't at least within striking distance to open the fourth quarter. 

Denver finished with a paltry 246 net yards offensively and 4-of-14 (29%) on third down. Wilson went 19-of-35 for 142 yards and a touchdown, while being sacked three times and hit and hurried constantly. Denver also gave the ball away twice. 

"It's unacceptable. Bottom line," Wilson said post-game of the offense's production. "This organization, this tradition here, this—everything else—we've got to honor it. We've got to honor it by winning. We've got honor it by our work ethic, and continue working hard. We've got to go out there and play, and play great, and find ways to score touchdowns... It's unacceptable."

This apparent sideline spat between Purcell and Wilson is evidence of what could be a growing divide in the Broncos' locker room. It's familiar territory for an organization that has consistently fielded top-ranked defenses post-Super Bowl 50, only to be foiled by utterly lackluster and incompetent offensive football. 

If Purcell had the gumption to jump his team's $250 million quarterback — albeit in the heat of the moment — imagine what his defensive brethren must be saying behind closed doors, and away from the glare and gleam of the cameras and microphones. 

For his part, head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who could be seen standing right in front of Purcell and Wilson when the altercation went down, claimed to be unaware of it. Another sign of Hackett's obliviousness and competency for the job. 

The Broncos fall to 3-8 on the season. All eyes are on GM George Paton and the Walton/Penner ownership group to see if heads roll after this debacle. 

Find more info and video of the incident here

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