The Denver Broncos punished D.J. Williams one day after his second drunken driving-related arrest, announcing Saturday that the linebacker received "the heaviest fines" allowed by the collective bargaining agreement, was stripped of his title as defensive co-captain and will not start in Sunday's home game against the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs.
"The Denver Broncos are extremely disappointed in D.J. Williams' careless and irresponsible actions on Friday morning," the team said in a statement. "This type of behavior is taken very seriously by the organization.
"The Broncos have levied the heaviest fines possible to him for conduct detrimental to the club under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement due to the disruption and resulting impact on the team. He will not start in Sunday's game against the Chiefs and has been stripped of his captaincy for the season."
Teams are allowed to fine players up to one game check, meaning Williams, who is making $3.67 million in base salary this season, could lose $215,882.35. However, the Denver Post reported that the fine was nearly $15,000.
Although Williams will not start, the Broncos didn't say how much he will play against the Chiefs. Earlier Saturday, the Post reported that the team was leaning toward benching Williams for the first quarter.
With Williams on the bench, the Broncos could insert Wesley Woodyard or Joe Mays at right inside linebacker or move outside linebacker Mario Haggan back inside and play Jarvis Moss on the outside. The Chiefs have the NFL's top-ranked rushing offense, averaging 179.6 yards per game.
Williams, who leads the Broncos in tackles (72) and sacks (3.5) this season, was charged with driving under the influence after being arrested in Denver early Friday morning, just hours before he was supposed to report to work at the team's practice facility.
District attorney's spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said Williams was pulled over at 2:40 a.m. Friday when police spotted him driving his car without headlights. He was cited with DUI, a misdemeanor, as well as driving without headlights, and taken to a detox facility.
If convicted, Williams faces a mandatory 10-day jail sentence, although the judge could order he serve his term at home, and at least two years of probation. Williams has been ordered to appear in court Dec. 13.
Williams showed up at Broncos headquarters shortly after practice started Friday, but he left after a few minutes.
"Any further possible discipline stemming from this incident will be determined by the league's policies and the legal system," the Broncos said in their statement Saturday.
Indeed, it's up to the NFL to fine or suspend a player for alcohol-related offenses. And Williams faces a multiple-game suspension from the league because it was his second such arrest in his seven seasons in Denver. He pleaded guilty to impaired driving in 2005 and was ordered to perform 24 hours of community service.
After his 2005 arrest, Williams said he realized he needed to get a designated driver whenever he went out partying. The Broncos provide drivers to their players, but Williams didn't use one Friday.
Other teams have similarly punished players for infractions and distractions this season. The New York Jets benched wide receiver Braylon Edwards for one quarter after a DUI arrest, and the Tennessee Titans didn't let wide receiver Kenny Britt start after he was involved in a brawl at a Nashville bar.
A conviction isn't required for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to suspend a player without pay. The league's policy states: "If the Commissioner finds that ... the player has had prior drug or alcohol-related misconduct, increased discipline up to and including suspension may be imposed."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.