ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –For the third time in the last four years, linebacker Wesley Woodyard earned the Broncos' Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his work in the community.
Woodyard, who has earned plenty of on-the-field recognition over the course of his football career, liked the fact that this specific honor reflected well upon the rest of his teammates as well.
"That makes me proud to see that my teammates care so much about the community," Woodyard said. "It is great that I got the award, but I'm excited the most by my teammates doing all the work that they do."
Woodyard is a staple at events put on by the organization, his teammates as well as his own 16Ways foundation. Those appearances are something that he views as an opportunity, not an obligation.
"Honestly, I don't even look at it as a time commitment," he said. "I just look at it as something that I love doing. If it causes me to be somewhere for eight hours, I'm going to be there. I just love working in the community and helping people out."
As a six-time team captain, Woodyard's leadership on the field can be seen on the field as he calls out the plays from the middle linebacker position.
But off the field, the linebacker acts as a leader as well.
"That's what it is all about," Woodyard said. "Everybody knows that football is first, but secretly in my heart, my passion lies within helping people out. It means a lot when the young guys come to me for advice, what to do, how to get involved in the community. Steve Johnson, I remember Steve coming up to me and talking to me his rookie year, asking, 'What can I do to get out in the community.' He was actually awarded today too as one of our ambassadors in the community. That is special. That is special to me."
Johnson took Woodyard's advice and in just his second year with the team was named one of its five Community Ambassadors along with safety Mike Adams, safety David Bruton, guard Ben Garland and tight end Virgil Green.
"(He's given me) a lot of help," Johnson said of the advice he received from Woodyard. "He just told me a good way to get started was throughout our Broncos organization. That's what I've been doing. I'm working on my own foundation – not necessarily sure what it is going to entail and stuff like that. I have a vision, but that comes in time. In the meantime, I just want to be able to help the organization out and really shine a bright light for the Broncos community and just help out any way I can."
Woodyard's community events have drawn not only his teammate's participation, but also Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
In April, Woodyard joined Mayor Hancock on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol Building to kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month and helped unveil the My Denver Card initiative, which allows all Denver Public School students who apply to the program admission into Denver's 26 recreations centers and 29 pools free of charge.
In a few weeks, Woodyard and Mayor Hancock will team up at his fourth annual 16Ways Foundation Toy Drive at the Downtown Aquarium.
"My next event is my baby," Woodyard wrote in his weekly DenverBroncos.com blog. "This is something that I look forward to every year. Mayor Hancock joins us and man, he's a great guy. I would just like to personally thank him for joining with me and making this event successful. It is amazing to see a football player team up with a mayor and having the mayor support me is something I'm really excited about."