The prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide historically recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award was established in 1970 and renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton. Each year, the Denver Broncos are proud to nominate one player who has had a significant, positive impact on his community.
Quarterback John Elway is the only Broncos player to win the national award (1992).
2019 Denver Broncos Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year: S Justin Simmons
Selected by Denver in the third round (98th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft, Simmons has supported many organizations in the Denver metro area. In 2019 alone, he has volunteered more than 3,500 minutes with 20 different local organizations.
Throughout four seasons as a Bronco, Simmons has worked directly with dozens community organizations including, but not limited to: Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Children's Hospital Colorado, Denver Rescue Mission, Food Bank of the Rockies, Global Down Syndrome Association, Habitat for Humanity, Make-A-Wish Colorado, Mile High United Way, National Sports Center for the Disabled, Playworks Colorado, Special Olympics Colorado, UCHealth and USA Football.
A two-time winner of the team's Community Ambassador Award (2017-18), Simmons has worked tirelessly to make a difference in five distinct focus areas: Youth Development, Hunger Relief, Health & Wellness, Youth Football and Civic Engagement.
Youth Development: Preparing youth to achieve their full potential through personal connections is a cornerstone of Simmons' service. His youth outreach includes volunteering at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and Denver Rescue Mission while also giving formal presentations at student-leadership summits and local graduation ceremonies.
In his second year as the Denver Broncos Fuel Up to Play 60 Ambassador, Simmons' messaging focuses on youth physical activity and nutrition by encouraging students to be leaders in their own schools. He served as the lead judge during a Healthy Schools Competition where he reviewed presentations by elementary and middle school student teams who proposed ideas and programs for improving their schools.
Simmons distributed $10,000 in the form of school grants during the 2018-2019 school year, and personally met with each student-led team to congratulate and encourage them on the difference they are making in their schools and communities.
In addition to direct non-profit outreach and partnerships, Simmons has worked with nearly 50 different schools (elementary through high school) focusing on bullying prevention, health and wellness and empowering student-athletes.
Hunger Relief: Simmons is a regular volunteer at Food Bank of the Rockies, the largest private hunger-relief organization in Colorado, which works to help families thrive by efficiently procuring and distributing food and essentials to the hungry. His efforts include packaging food orders for partner agencies in addition to attending events that support fundraising to provide meals to those in need, including the team's annual Taste of the Broncos event.
Health & Wellness: Simmons annually supports the team's "Fight Like A Bronco" campaign, an all-inclusive initiative recognizing all those affected by cancer, by leading player hospital visits throughout the season. For the second consecutive year, Simmons hosted an arts and crafts station for pediatric oncology patients and their families receiving treatment at Children's Hospital Colorado.
Additionally, Simmons leads room-to-room visits with patients battling various types of cancer at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. He also partnered with UCHealth to provide a patient battling cancer pregame field passes and tickets to the 2019 Fight Like A Bronco home game.
Youth Football: Character, healthy masculinity and access to fair play for athletes with all abilities is woven through Simmons' interactions with youth and high school football athletes. His efforts have allowed him to form relationships with Special Olympics Colorado, Denver Public Schools and Aurora Public Schools.
Throughout the year, Simmons visits local youth and high school football games and practices, speaks with players of all ages about his journey to the NFL and attends the team's PLAY 60 Special Olympics youth clinics.
Civic Engagement: Simmons is also involved in the team's social justice outreach, attending multiple events focused on support for the first responder community. In May alone, Simmons volunteered at four events that reached more than 100 first responders in the Metro Denver community. He volunteered at the beginning of the month alongside officers from various jurisdictions to run inclusive PLAY 60 stations for Special Olympics Athletes. Simmons and his teammates visited a local fire station whose crew members had recently responded to a local school shooting. He joined 25 kids from the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club and 20 local police officers during National Police Week to work together to assemble 13,000 meals to fight hunger in the community. Rounding out the month, Simmons was part of a group of Broncos players who visited the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office and went through various educational training stations to learn more about the different way the officers serve our local community.
In addition to his community involvement, Simmons has developed into one of the league's top safeties and ironmen as he currently boasts the NFL's longest consecutive snaps played by a defensive player (1,871 consecutive snaps). Through 13 games, he is one of just six players to record at least 70 total tackles and three interceptions to go along with a career-best 13 passes defensed.
The Denver Broncos are proud to name Justin Simmons the 2019 Denver Broncos Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
|2018: Von Miller||2012: Zane Beadles||2006: Rod Smith|
|2017: Chris Harris Jr.||2011: Wesley Woodyard||2005: John Lynch|
|2016: Virgil Green||2010: Wesley Woodyard||2004: Rod Smith|
|2015: David Bruton Jr.||2009: Champ Bailey||2003: Ian Gold|
|2014: Ben Garland||2008: Champ Bailey||2002: Ed McCaffrey|
|2013: Wesley Woodyard||2007: Domonique Foxworth||2001: Eric Brown|