New RB Jamaal Charles and QB Trevor Siemian were just two of the Broncos who supported the NFL's PLAY 60 initiative and Special Olympics Colorado during Tuesday's All-Ability Clinic. (Photos by Aric DiLalla, unless noted)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Jamaal Charles spent the first part of his Tuesday engrossed in the process of getting to know his new team.
He continued to learn the offense and get acquainted with his new teammates. So far, the process is going well, and he was clearly amped about getting to know his fellow running backs.
"It's exciting, man. We all joke around," Charles said. "It's not any big pressure; it's just exciting to be around a new room. They're probably excited to be around a new guy. I'm excited to be a part of the room."
He's also excited to learn the new offense.
"The playbook is going to be easy," Charles said. "I've been in five different systems. I like it, too. [Offensive Coordinator] Mike McCoy, he's got a great offensive playbook."
The sight of the Chiefs' all-time leading rusher in an orange jersey is still a jarring one, but eventually everyone will get accustomed to it.
"It feels weird coming to work, putting another jersey on. It definitely feels weird, but it's exciting weird," Charles said. "I'm excited about the new chapter. I'm excited about what's ahead of me, and we'll go from there. I'm just excited."
Just one thing excites him more: the work he did after the day's football duties were complete.
That's when Charles returned to familiar ground by volunteering with the Special Olympics at the Broncos' Play 60 All-Ability Clinic, held inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse.
Few things are closer to Charles' heart. While growing up in Port Arthur, Texas, Charles competed in the Special Olympics, winning gold medals in track-and-field events 21 years ago.
"it showed me that I could have hope," Charles said. "It opened my eyes that I could get out in the community and do more, and that I'm not just an average person. It had me looking like I was better than an average person."
His Special Olympics success was a life-changing accomplishment for Charles, eventually propelling him to the NFL. When he broke into the league, he quickly began giving back to the Special Olympics. Two years ago at the international Special Olympics, he administered the athletes' oath.
The clinic represented a perfect chance to share his passion with his new town and teammates.
"Being a part of Special Olympics, some of these people's kids, family members, they give up on them. They give up on these people right here," Charles said.
As he spoke, he glanced at the field in front of him. In his sightline were hundreds of kids who bounded with excitement as they went through football drills. Some of them celebrated touchdowns with energetic dances that would put the pros to shame.
"That's why it brings tears to my heart just seeing these kids, playing with them and getting them excited and continuing to speak with them about the future, [telling them], 'If you've got dreams, keep dreaming,'" Charles said.
Thirteen other Broncos joined Charles inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse to work with the children on hand for the clinic: tight ends A.J. Derby and Virgil Green, outside linebacker Vontarrius Dora, defensive linemen Adam Gotsis and Kyle Peko, inside linebackers Corey Nelson and Quentin Gause, kicker Brandon McManus, cornerback Taurean Nixon, wide receiver Kalif Raymond, quarterback Trevor Siemian and safeties Justin Simmons and Darian Stewart.
Every player took something from the experience.
"We get way more out of them than they get from us," McManus said. "Just how much they've had to go through so far in their lives, and they come out here and they still have smiles on their faces, and they're so excited to see us. It teaches us how to stay humble and how to realize what's important in life."
But for Charles, it will always be bigger, and it will always be personal.
"It means a lot to me, being a part of this, and trying just to inspire kids, to show them, 'Don't give up,' because sometimes in this position, we give up," Charles said. "These kids right here, they've got bright hearts, and I want to put it in their hearts to keep on being strong and motivating them to be successful in life."
"Isn't that incredible – No. 1, that he's here in Denver, and No. 2, that he has experience," added Mindy Watrous, the president and CEO of Special Olympics Colorado. "What a role model for our athletes -- but also for all of our typically developing kids, our partners, everybody, to see what you can do when you put your mind to it, and how everybody has talents and everybody needs to be valued and counted. So we're thrilled to have him."