ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Safety Justin Simmons has been selected as the Denver Broncos 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee, it was announced on Thursday. The prestigious award, presented by Nationwide, recognizes a player for his outstanding leadership both on the field and in the community.
The Broncos presented their "Champions in the Community" awards and recognized Simmons during Thursday morning's team meeting.
ABOUT SIMMONS' WORK IN THE COMMUNITY
Selected by the Broncos in the third round (98th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft from Boston College, 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 of 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 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 in which 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 2018-19 school year. He 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 that 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, he volunteered at four events that reached more than 100 first responders in the Metro Denver community.
Simmons volunteered at the beginning of the month alongside officers from various jurisdictions to run inclusive PLAY 60 stations for Special Olympics Athletes. He and his teammates visited a local fire station whose crew members had recently responded to a local school shooting.
Simmons 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, he 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 streak of consecutive snaps played by a defensive player (1,871 consecutive snaps). Through 14 games, he is one of just NFL six players to record at least 70 total tackles and three interceptions to go along with a career-best 13 passes defensed.
Simmons also conducts himself professionally with the media and was presented with the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award by the local Denver media following the 2017 season. He was the youngest Bronco to win the award, which is named in honor of the late cornerback who was tragically killed in a shooting and annually presented to the Bronco who best exemplifies Williams' enthusiasm, cooperation and honesty while dealing with members of the press.
To announce the team's 2019 Denver Broncos Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nomination, several members of the community surprised Justin Simmons to tell him how he's made an impact on them.
As a nominee, Simmons will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field. All current players who have won the national award will wear a Man of the Year patch on their jerseys in perpetuity.
For the second year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIV. The 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 1, the eve of Super Bowl LIV, on FOX. NFL Honors will be at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.
All 32 nominees will receive a donation of up to $50,000 in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 5th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.
More information about the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.
Previous Broncos nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award include outside linebacker Von Miller (2018), cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (2017), tight end Virgil Green (2016), safety David Bruton Jr. (2015), guard Ben Garland (2014), linebacker Wesley Woodyard (2010-11, '13), guard Zane Beadles (2012), cornerback Champ Bailey (2008-09), cornerback Domonique Foxworth (2007), wide receiver Rod Smith (2004, '06), safety John Lynch (2005), linebacker Ian Gold (2003) and wide receiver Ed McCaffrey (2002).
Quarterback John Elway (1992) is the only Broncos player to win the national award, which was first given in 1970 and renamed after the Chicago Bears' Pro Football Hall of Fame running back in 1999.