ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —The Denver Broncos have selected guard Ben Garland as their Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award recipient, it was announced Thursday morning at a team meeting. This prestigious award historically recognizes a player for outstanding leadership both on the field and in the community.
Also on Thursday, the club recognized four players as Denver Broncos Community Champion Award winners: safety David Bruton, tight end Virgil Green, linebacker Steven Johnson and defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Linebacker Corey Nelson was named the Broncos' inaugural Community Rookie of the Year for his contributions to the community in his first NFL season.
Garland co-founded and serves as the executive director of the SoDE Solution, a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating sustainable and changing economic situations to be a part of the solution to end sex trafficking. One current project he is spearheading through the organization is finding ways to provide basic needs (power, clean water, food) through sustainable methods to a Cambodian orphanage, which has been in existence for 15 years and survived on minimal resources. SoDE Solution's ultimate goal is to make the orphanage a place of transformation and self-sustainability.
Broncos players, cheerleaders, staff, Ring of Fame linebacker Randy Gradishar and team President and CEO Joe Ellis visited the men and women at the Schriever Air Force Base.
A Colorado native who joined the Broncos as a college free agent from the Air Force Academy in 2010, Garland has done extensive work with the club's high school football platform. He has made numerous visits to football practices as part of the Broncos High School Game of the Week series in addition to participating in the inaugural Mom's Football Safety Clinic in August.
In addition to his own charitable efforts, Garland is a regular participant in team community events. He has volunteered his time for Drive for Life, Hometown Huddle, events with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and the Denver Broncos Holiday Party for the Denver Rescue Mission. Garland also expanded his personal work with Make-A-Wish Colorado this season to include hosting Broncos Make-A-Wish visits.
Garland's selection as the Broncos' Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award recipient will be recognized during Denver's home game against Buffalo on Sunday, and the Broncos will make a $10,000 donation to his selected charity. His name will be submitted to the NFL for consideration as the national award winner, which is announced during Super Bowl week.
The NFL's winner will receive a $50,000 donation to the organization of his choice courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide ($25,000 from each). Two finalists will be announced this month and will receive $5,000 donations in their names while the other 29 nominees will receive $1,000 donations to their selected charities.
Previous Broncos nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award include 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.