DENVER (CBS4) – Broncos placekicker Matt Prater apologized on Monday for a DUI and a drinking violation that resulted in a four-game suspension to start the NFL season.
“I am really sorry,” Prater said. “I have made mistakes and I hope to gain everyone’s trust back and I am going to work my tail off to try and help us win a championship this year. I take full responsibility for what’s happened and I’m accountable for it.”
Greenwood Village police arrested Prater on Aug. 12, 2011, and charged him with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. That landed him in the league’s substance abuse program, which Prater violated by drinking beer on vacation this summer.
The league aimed for a one-year suspension, but Prater and his attorney sought a deal to keep it at four games. The kicker is in an alcohol-treatment program.
Prater said the suspension — and the resulting cloud hanging over him — has affected him this preseason.
“It definitely has. Like last game, I obviously didn’t have my best game,” he said. “It’s been on my mind. You’re waiting for it to come out and then when it does come out it obviously affected my performance. Now I am glad it’s over with and hopefully get past it and continue to have success here.”
He said he vowed not to drink again as long as he’s in the substance abuse program.
At practice Monday, Coach John Fox said the team will back Prater.
“There’s always disappointment,” Fox said. “In this case, he’s part of our family. He’s one of ours, and we’re going to support him through this.”
Prater is two of four on field goal kicks this preseason. In 2013, he was easily the league’s best kicker, missing only one of 26 attempts and hitting seven from more than 50 yards, including a league-record 64-yarder.
Prater, in his eighth season out of Central Florida, has played nearly his entire career with Denver.
The team’s backup kicker is rookie Mitch Ewald, but the Broncos may seek a more experienced veteran.