With Sunday's game against the Dolphins approaching, the Broncos were honed in at practice on Thursday.
Each week of the season DenverBroncos.com will highlight the off-field contributions of a Denver Bronco. This week we talked to special teams captain and safety David Bruton Jr., who spends his time working with Western Dairy's Fuel Up to Play 60 in addition to being involved with the Broncos' community work. *
You are often seen encouraging your teammates to get involved with the team's community work, why is it so important for you as an NFL player to give back to the community?
"For the mere fact that we're blessed and we're role models—even if we don't want to be, we're considered role models. People look up to us from all ages and it's just the right thing to give back a blessing that you've been blessed with in some shape, way or form, whether it's helping at a soup kitchen or going and running around with kids. Every little bit counts and every time they see our faces it's like a light of encouragement. It's something that I definitely feel all players should participate in."
What have been some of your favorite Broncos community events to participate in?
"Anything with the Boys and Girls Clubs has been fun—Hometown Huddle has been fun. Anything with the kids—that's probably my favorite, just to go and run around and be like a kid again, have fun, race them, tackle them—I have a lot of fun with that."
Who was an NFL player who you looked up to for his community work and leadership?
"Definitely [former Broncos/current Tennessee Titans LB] Wesley Woodyard—he would be the one who rubbed off on me the most. I always had the idea in my head to give back and do whatever I could in the community, but to see him do it over and over—even when he had his own foundation (the 16ways Foundation) and even after winning the Walter Payton Award two years in a row. He was still able to keep doing and keep striving to make a difference. He definitely was a huge motivation for me."
How did your community work impact your decision to work as a substitute teacher during the 2011 NFL lockout?
"It definitely opened my eyes to the idea of teaching. I've always enjoyed working with kids, even before then. But it just seemed like a good avenue, since we didn't have work or anything else going on, to continue to make a difference in some way and somehow—not just in the form of a guy running a camp or showing up and doing a quick appearance—but actually help mold the kids for however many days that I did."
You often reach out to fans and kids who have been victims of bullying, why is that so important to you?
"It's important, especially because I have a nine-year-old myself. I'd hate for him to be bullied and I was reached out by Spradley Auto Group down in Pueblo, Colo. to get involved (with anti-bullying) and it was definitely a great opportunity to get down there and meet a lot of people in Pueblo and just talk about things they could do to eliminate bullying. Bullying has grown tremendously, and nowadays it's not just the typical kids picking on you all day, now it's via social media, Twitter, whatever it is. Bullying has definitely curved the way we have to approach stuff like that, and there are a lot of different avenues (to fight bullying), and just being able to help the kids realize all the avenues is definitely beneficial."
How have you been able to use social media in a positive way in your community work?
"It's just using it as a positive platform, letting people know there are guys in the league that care. It's just not me who posts stuff like that, there are a lot of guys who post about charity work and things they've done—from rookies to Wesley Woodyard doing it so often—just letting it be out there. I can let people know I'm involved in making a difference, helping a cause, and it could help potentially motivate other people to get involved who are looking for something to do or feel a bit of emptiness and want to give back in some way, shape or form."
How did you get involved with Western Dairy's Fuel Up to Play 60 platform?
"[Broncos Vice President of Community Development] Cindy Kellogg and my agents came up to me and mentioned the idea of being part of the program and educated me about it. Of course I knew a few things about it from the commercials, but the whole in-depth process about it—I wasn't quite sure what was going on behind the scenes. It's definitely a great organization I was linked up to and it's definitely turned out to be a blessing—not only am I helping out with schools here and going to assemblies or doing recordings so I can impact the schools while I'm work but they still hear a message from me. Also, I got a chance to FaceTime with an elementary school back in my hometown (in Ohio) and actually bring Fuel Up to Play 60 there, so it's definitely been very beneficial for me to come out and do whatever it is to get kids to eat healthy and live right and help their performance on and off the field."
What are some of your favorite part of being involved with the Fuel Up to Play 60 platform?
"There was one I did in Aurora, Colo. where I went around—I felt like a TV show host when I was walking around and asking them questions and letting them ask me questions. It was like I was running The Ricki Lake Show or something like that (laughs). I enjoy being active and participating with the kids, they will have a list of things they want to me to touch on but instead of a formal speech I just get to have fun. As long as I get the message across, I feel like the job is done."