'Non-football illness' will keep DT out
Gardener was suspended twice for a total of three games for conduct detrimental to the team. He was to join the team Monday after the suspensions, but Broncos coach Mike Shanahan decided to shelve Gardener so the player can seek treatment for unspecified personal issues, which Shanahan categorized as a "non-football illness."
"I'll let them [the issues] stay with him, and I'll respect that," Shanahan said. "I'm hoping the best for him and that things get taken care of."
Gardener's agent, Neil Schwartz, said the player wasn't being treated for alcohol or drugs.
"This was not adversarial," Schwartz said. "Both sides agreed this is what's best for Daryl. He understands and agrees that his personal health is paramount."
Several sources tell ESPN's Chris Mortensen that Gardener reached out for help because he believed he was having deep-rooted psychological problems, perhaps including depression.
Gardener was supposed to be Denver's big free-agent pickup of the offseason, signing a seven-year deal that included a $5 million signing bonus. He hasn't lived up to the expectations.
Gardener was arrested for a fight outside a pancake house in July, then missed training camp and the team's first five games because of wrist surgery stemming from the altercation.
He returned in a limited role before starting two games, but he was replaced as a starter by Mario Fatafehi on Nov. 6 against San Diego.
Gardener told Shanahan the next week that he didn't get along with some of Denver's defensive coaches, including coordinator Larry Coyer, and didn't like the team's scheme.
Shanahan suspended Gardener for one game after the meeting, and the defensive tackle criticized his coach in a tirade on a Denver radio station the next day. Shanahan suspended Gardener for two more games after the outburst.
Despite all the problems, Shanahan said he would be open to Gardener returning to the team next season.
"We still have his rights, and I'll address that at the end of the season," Shanahan said.
Schwartz said Gardener hopes to be back in Denver.
"Once he resolves his personal situation, he intends to sit down with coach Mike Shanahan and try to resolve some of the differences and hopes to resume playing with the Denver Broncos," Schwartz said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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