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Community Conversation: Steven Johnson


Why is it so important for you as an NFL player to give back to the community?**

"I know where I came from and when I was a little kid how I looked up to NFL athletes. And when I went to certain football camps—I went to the [former NFL running back] Duce Staley football camp—I met all the players that were there and they would give back with their knowledge of the game. I just wanted to keep that trend going, especially to people who are less fortunate and don't have certain things in their lives. It's easy for us to be able to give back. This is a platform that God gave me and it's what I'm supposed to do—I'm supposed to help others."

How did you start getting involved in community work?

"I started getting really involved when I went to [the University of] Kansas with certain little things. I can't necessarily remember everything, but I specifically remember a little kid named Connor, I can't remember what specific disease he had but he came out to our practice and we just hung out with him after for a while. Soon after that he passed away and I think ever since then I've always wanted to be able to help out and give back in any way that I could."

You've been to nearly every community event this season. What do you like about participating in the team events?

"They're all just different. I like how the kids look up to you and look at you like you're superhuman or something like that—I know the feeling of looking at an athlete like they're superhuman. It's just fun to be able to hang out with kids and get your mind off of football, just to be able to go out in the real world and see what's going on and how you can influence somebody and help make somebody's day a better day."

You always support your teammates at their individual foundation events. Why is it important for you to support their work?

"A lot of them are like myself with giving back, and at a same time with my foundation coming up I'll want them to come to my events. It's just supporting them and what they do and how they want to give back. We all have different ways that we give back, but they're all beneficial to the community."

Who was an NFL player who you looked up to for his community work and leadership?

"When I got to the NFL, people who always stood out to me were [former Broncos/current Tennessee Titans LB] Wesley Woodyard and [G] Ben Garland. Those guys are always at every event, always doing things for kids and things like that. I think that's how we all should model ourselves to be in the community. Those guys did a great job doing that. Ben being a Walter Payton Man of the Year, he did a great job this year doing that and he does that every year. That's just the person he is."

You were named a Denver Broncos Community Champion award winner for your contributions to the club's community platform. What did that mean to you?

"It means a lot. This was the second year in a row now and I've got those plaques hanging up in my house. It means a lot and next year you hope you're the Walter Payton Man of the Year—that's not what I'm looking for, but it's a cool accomplishment. You're giving up a lot of your time and there are plenty of times where you're tired but there is some kid out there that's going through something and I could talk to them, so it's important."

You and your wife, Stephanie, have worked with the Dream Foundation to bring a family out to a Broncos game. How did you get involved with that?

"My mother-in-law works with the Dream Foundation back in Kansas City. They were trying to get a family out here to meet some of the players and stuff like that. That will be a good deal for them to be able to come out here and be able to experience something like that. Whether it's through my foundation or somebody else's foundation or through a friend, just to be able to help a little kid or anybody do something like that—it can be a lifelong memory."

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