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Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Living Scared: Dave Abrams

Soon after Broncos corner Darrent Williams was shot and killed on Jan. 1, 2007, Denver hired Dave Abrams to oversee security. The 37-year Denver PD veteran sees his job as the fight of his life—changing the mind-set of the players and keeping up with the criminals who target them.

Security is getting these guys to recognize they're not invincible. I tell them, "You've all got big targets on you." But instead of a bull's-eye, it's a big, green dollar sign. And their problems are exacerbated by the idea of athletes as modern-day warriors. If criminals are prepared to deal violence on an average citizen, they'll ratchet it up on somebody they are intimidated by. A criminal is thinking, I gotta bring extra stuff, because these are big, mean, tough guys.

I tell the players the notoriety you seek as an athlete increases vulnerability. I can look at any Broncos schedule and know exactly when they'll be in or out of town. Think about that. Scammers and schemers. That's all part of this phenomena as well. Players are constantly bombarded by people trying to make a buck, quickly.

I talk a lot about the ego side of things, about recognizing when things are going bad and just disengaging and leaving. It's about being smart and making smart decisions. And using all your assets, not just your physical ones. Why would you want to fight over a bar stool?

I encourage all guys to get security systems as elaborate as they can afford. But it doesn't do any good if you don't put them into practice. The simplest things make a difference. Lock doors. Turn the system on. Use the peephole. We did surveys of guys in gated communities. Three of them didn't even have a peephole in their door. They had no way of knowing who was on the other side until they opened it.

But as you lessen opportunity on one level, you open doors on another. Technology forces criminals to be more personal. You got LoJack on cars, automatic engine cutoffs, microchips in keys. These make inanimate objects less attractive. What's the next layer? Wives and children: a kid kidnapped for ransom, or some other kind of craziness. I'm scared to death that's where criminals perceive the next vulnerability is for our players: their families.