ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Von Miller first introduced the idea of raising money to help protect first responders, several teammates agreed to help fund the creation and distribution of SHIELD616 kits, which each include a ballistic vest, ballistic helmet and a wound trauma kit.
Perhaps no one was more excited to contribute to the cause — for which Miller and the Broncos raised $200,000 — than Phillip Lindsay. And Lindsay had one person in mind when Miller introduced the initiative: Denver police officer Andrew Bergner.
"Right when that [announcement] happened, Andrew popped into my head," Lindsay said Thursday. "And so I jumped on the fact that if I could buy him anything to keep him safe out there in the streets — because it is dangerous — then I was going to do what I had to do."
On Thursday, over 100 first responders at UCHealth Training Center received the kits, but Lindsay's presentation to Bergner was particularly meaningful. Following practice, Broncos players met with the first responders, and that gave Lindsay and Bergner a chance to rekindle a friendship that started on a football field years ago.
"We actually met in a high school football camp," Bergner said Thursday. "We started talking then, and then met again in college [and] played on the same team at [the University of Colorado]. And we became great friends there. I just love his personality, great heart, good leadership and everything, so we clicked from there."
When they arrived at Colorado, Lindsay and Bergner shared more than just the same hometown. They shared a dream.
"[Being able to support Andrew] means a lot, because when we came to college, we had the same dream, same goal: to become a police officer," Lindsay said. "And he went on and really took advantage of the time at Colorado and got acclimated really fast, and now he's a police officer, and I'm proud of him, man."
Though their careers took different paths, their bond remains strong. As Bergner — a cornerback and special teams contributor for the Buffaloes — watched Lindsay rise to stardom in Boulder, he also got a firsthand look at Lindsay's work ethic and refusal to back down, even after Lindsay missed out on the NFL Combine and went undrafted. So he wasn't surprised when Lindsay ascended to one of the league's best runners as a rookie.
"Senior year he broke out, and I was like, 'Oh, for sure, he's going to get drafted, go to the Combine and all this stuff,'" Bergner said. "And then they didn't invite him to the Combine, [and] he didn't get drafted. But I knew who he was and how good of a player he was, so he made the team, became a starter, and now he's going to the Pro Bowl."
Bergner was one of the first ones to congratulate Lindsay on the selection earlier this week.
"I was excited," Bergner said. "I had to call him up, say congratulations and everything. It's going to be great watching him out there with all the all-stars of the league. He's one of them now."
Lindsay may spend game days under the bright lights on the NFL stage, but on Thursday, he and Bergner shared a football field once again as two friends who shared a dream nearly five years ago.
"I'm proud that [Bergner]'s out here, and he's helping protect the streets, helping our society become a better place to be," Lindsay said.
It's a dream Lindsay hasn't given up on, either. Football may put those plans on hold, but Lindsay said Thursday he'd still love to someday become a police officer, perhaps after his playing days are over.
Bergner believes he'd be a perfect fit.
"Definitely," Bergner said. "The community loves him. He's good with talking with people, interacting with them. He's a humble guy.
"He'll be a great one, one day."
That last sentence, it seems, can apply no matter which uniform — Broncos or police — Lindsay wears.
The Broncos presented more than 100 SHIELD616 advanced protective kits to first responders from local urban and rural communities on December 20, 2018. Players and the organization donated more than $200,000 to the cause.