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Children's Hospital Colorado Jr. Reporter: A conversation with S Justin Simmons


Thanks to Children's Hospital Colorado and the Denver Broncos I was able to visit UCHealth Training Center in October of 2022. It was a great experience to see how the Broncos work out and how amazing their facility is. After touring the facility and watching a little bit of the practice I had the opportunity to speak with Justin Simmons. Simmons, a safety for the Broncos, was great to talk to and very down to earth. Below is my conversation with him.

Jack: So, what got you into football, originally?

Justin Simmons: "Good question. My dad got me into football originally. He played college ball and floated around the NFL and practice squads for a little bit. So I'm the first son and the oldest of three of us and being the firstborn, you know, he was like, 'You have no choice. You're playing football.' So he kind of threw me into the fire but then I ended up loving it."

Jack: And so, what was the first thing you bought when you went pro? Once you got your first paycheck?

Justin Simmons: "That's a great question. Well, you know what's crazy? Shortly after I signed the paper, I was just like, 'We got to go celebrate.' I told my wife we got to go celebrate. So, we went to the West Palm Beach Mall down in South Florida, and we just went store to store, and we got new iPhones. We went from store to store just looking to buy whatever we wanted. Clothing, you name it. It was so much."

Jack: So, this one's more interesting. Four years ago … was the first time I was diagnosed with cancer and now I have had it twice. What were you doing four years ago?

Justin Simmons: "Fall of 2018, right? I remember not having any kids. I remember that because once you have kids, man, oh, really it changes. Now that I think about it, I do remember. So, four years ago, it would have been right around this time [the fall]. I'll never forget Von Miller got up on this podium right here [at UCHealth Training Center], and he said we're going to go down to Arizona and we're going to kick the Cardinals' butts and I remember him saying that. … As players [we were] like, well now we got to go out and back it up right? You can't just say that and not be able to do it, and we went out and we ended up winning Thursday night 45-10. Wow, that was already four years ago? That's pretty good for me to remember."

Jack: What football player did you idolize growing up? Because I imagine you probably idolized football players too.

Justin Simmons: "Yeah, that's the easy one. Brian Dawkins was a guy that I loved watching. Obviously, I think, you know, we have two different styles of play. I don't model my game after him, but just I loved watching his energy, his enthusiasm for the game and how he played with passion. Also just from a faith perspective, I'm really into my faith and that's how I was raised. So watching him kind of be himself and still be an amazing Hall of Fame-type of player on the field. For me that was really inspiring, he gave me the hopes that like, 'OK, hey, I can be a Christian and be really good at football.' So loved watching BDawk play."

Jack: What did you study in college? I know you went to Boston College.

Justin Simmons: "Good job on your research. If football didn't work out, my goal was to be a sports commentator. I love arguing/debating and I love talking about sports and I feel like there's no better avenue to go down than that. My major is communications, and the dream was if I didn't play football, my plan B would have been sports commentating in some shape form."

Jack: What are your hobbies outside of football and some of your childhood hobbies that you grew up with that you now have outside of football?

Justin Simmons: "Yeah, I have a bunch mainly in the offseason, you know, like a lot of what I do is like hang out my family. We love taking family trips. The season is so rigorous like there's so much that goes on, I'm so busy. I feel like I missed so much. I've missed out on so much family time. So in the offseason, the first thing to do is we get away and we take a trip that might be in the mountains and Aspen or Vail or you know, just somewhere in the mountains or we might go back home to South Florida and Disney. So, that's one of my favorites. I'm a big gamer, big games like a mouse and keyboard, you know, building a PC, that's my thing. I'm actually a part of the Esports organization called XSET."

Jack: What team did you cheer for growing up?

Justin Simmons: "I cheered for the Cowboys because my dad was our big Cowboys fan. Once again, as the firstborn, I had no choice. I'm sitting watching football, my dad was on the couch. He got his Cowboys gear on. I'm not old enough to know too much. So, I'm sitting there cheering when he cheers. So naturally, I grew up a Cowboys fan. As I grew older. I kind of just enjoyed a lot of sports like the NBA, like I just enjoyed watching certain players from certain teams not necessarily a fan of any team. But I grew up a Cowboys fan."

Jack: Since you're a gamer, do you ever play as yourself and Madden?

Justin Simmons: "I did all the time when I first started. I mean, how cool when I was growing up. I used to always make my character, right? You know, I had to turn the skin tone down just a little bit, you know, like fix everything the right way I wanted it. But now, you know, like one of my first years in the league, I couldn't wait for the new Madden. I went on and was excited to see myself in the game. But I cried a little a bit when I saw my rating but other than that it was, you know, it was really cool. It motivated me to get up my rating. But it was cool because I was like, 'That's actually me in the game.' I don't really play Madden as much anymore, but the first couple of years, it was really cool."

Jack: So, I notice you have tattoos, I got one after the first time I had cancer. What's your favorite tattoo? Or the one that has the most meaning?

Justin Simmons: "That's one of my favorite questions people ask me. So it'll be this one on the inside of my forearm. If you look closely, it's Jesus on the cross, and then his arm extends into being my arm. The nail right on the wrist and for me, it's just a visualization of just how personal it is. it's a reminder every time I look just a reminder, yes, my favorite one."

Jack: Do you have any superstitions? Like do you have any pregame superstitions or do you know any other players'?

Justin Simmons: "Yeah. A bunch of guys have superstitions. I mean I've seen it all like you got to listen to this playlist at this time all the way up until kickoff. You got to eat this meal, you've got to have this certain drink. You got to wake up at this certain time. I mean there's a bunch of different stuff. But for me personally, I wouldn't say I have superstitions. I like my schedule, but if my schedule gets out of sorts with families in town, you know you have to be flexible. Like, if my daughter wanted to watch a show before I left in the morning or something like that. You know there are things that happen. It is not that big of a deal, but I like to have a schedule. But in terms of getting to the stadium and getting ready for the game, it's kind of like a free-for-all just like whatever works that day works."

Jack: That wraps up all the questions I had today. Thank you so much for spending time with me today. I see how busy you are.

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