2021 Denver Broncos Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year: S Justin Simmons
Selected by the Broncos in the third round (98th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft from Boston College, Simmons has consistently demonstrated a commitment to using his platform to impact the community during his six seasons as a Bronco. Simmons' commitment to his community has not wavered throughout his time in Denver, continuously expanding the reach of his impact, varying from social justice efforts to mentoring local youth and creating his own foundation to expand beyond Colorado.
SIMMONS' 2021 COMMUNITY WORK
In June of 2020, Simmons announced the establishment of the Justin Simmons Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on youth development, hunger relief, educational initiatives and other charitable causes. Through strategic programming and initial outreach, he is dedicated to mentoring young people, promoting the benefits of youth sports and supporting youth education.
The Foundation launched its inaugural "31 for the Holidays" program this year, announcing grants to Denver Rescue Mission and Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and Martin County, providing holiday gifts for more than 130 children and supporting 25 families.
He was also honored in 2021 with the Pop Warner Little Scholars Inspiration to Youth Award, in recognition of his love and dedication to football, his community, and his role as an inspiration to young people everywhere.
Throughout the last year, Simmons and his teammates collaborated with local activists to push for decarceration of non-violent offenders and clemency reform. He was featured in ACLU Colorado's Redemption Campaign, a statewide initiative to safely release thousands of people from prison who pose no public safety risk. Simmons continuously meets with Governor Jared Polis' office to discuss utilizing clemency in new and transformational ways.
After working with Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) through the Denver Broncos Inspire Change program in 2020, Simmons remained engaged with the program by speaking on its SBLV Leadership Panel. He continued to meet monthly with Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club teens he had mentored during the team's RISE 9-week leadership program last year.
He teamed up with Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club teenagers Nashara and Naja'Ray to support their efforts to plan and hold a March for Peace in June 2021 and continues to use his platform to highlight their activism and elevate their voices. The march focused on effecting change in their neighborhood and country, as well as providing an opportunity to remember and mourn loved ones lost to violence.
Simmons continues to play an active role in the Denver Broncos' weekly community outreach opportunities, joining his teammates in giving back to Broncos Country. This year alone, Simmons volunteered at nearly 40 community events facilitated by the team, spanning 24 different nonprofits and community organizations in each of the team's five focus areas (Civic Engagement, Health & Wellness, Quality of Life, Youth Development, Youth Football).
After hearing about a family who lost their son, also named Justin Simmons, the safety connected with the family to express his condolences. Simmons took it a step further and invited the family of eight to Colorado for the team's home opener, taking care of all associated costs, including airfare, accommodations, tickets, and more in an effort to offer family support and increase awareness around the importance of organ donations
More information about the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award can be found at www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.