Coach, QB say arrest `no distraction'

Thursday, November 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan stated flatly that quarterback Brian Griese's arrest for driving under the influence ``won't affect the team. I will guarantee you that.''

Shanahan said Wednesday that the only question is whether the legal troubles affect Griese himself.

``I think it's human nature to have it affect you a little bit, any time you deal with a situation like that,'' the coach said. ``But Brian is tough enough and mature enough to handle it and take care of business.''

Griese, who said earlier that he accepts full responsibility for his actions, insisted the arrest last week is ``not a distraction to me. I can't speak for the team, but in no way whatsoever is it going to be a distraction for me.''

He said he hasn't spoken formally to his teammates about his troubles beyond ``just talking to guys in passing. We've put it behind us, and we're ready to go to work.''

Asked if he understood why his arrest attracted such media attention and seemed to be such a huge topic of conversation, he said, ``I understand it. Trust me, I cherish the gifts that I've been given. God gave me a lot of gifts, and I'm in a great position right now, a position in which I have a lot of influence on people. I don't take that lightly.

``I wouldn't change my situation for the world, because of the fact I can have an influence on people in such a positive way. The thing that hurts me the most with what happened is it's negative. I mean, that's not me.

``I'm going to continue to work hard and keep my nose clean and have a positive influence on people, because that _ to me _ is why God gave me the gifts that I do have. To play football, not to be an athlete and do those types of things, but I'm in a situation where I can have a positive influence on kids and people that look up to me. This is a gift.''