Over the weekend, the Broncos began a new tradition for the youngest members of the team, as they hosted the parents and families of their 2021 rookie class for a weekend of activities at Empower Field at Mile High.
On Saturday, the rookies' family members gathered at Empower Field to meet one another, take a tour of the stadium, speak with General Manager George Paton and other front office personnel and enjoy a luncheon in one of Empower Field's suites. The weekend concluded as the families attended the Week 10 game vs. Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.
The event, slated as the first of many rookie parent weekends to come for the Broncos, was orchestrated by Paton and Executive Director of Football Operations and Special Assistant to the GM Kelly Kleine. According to Kleine, the event is meant to help the rookies' families become more comfortable and knowledgeable as their sons navigate their first season in the NFL.
"It's tough, the first year of the NFL," Kleine said. "It's a lot thrown at you — you've got to one, learn the playbook, and two, you're thrown into a whole organization. And you're young still — you're 22, 23 years old. So I think it's really important for the parents to see what [their sons] are doing. If there's anything we can tell the parents to help them help their sons, that's the whole point of it too."
For many of the parents in attendance, the biggest takeaway of the weekend was the information they received during Saturday's luncheon with Paton and Broncos personnel.
"They're going to meet — virtually — the GM, and basically all of the employees who touch their sons — the trainer, the psychologist, Patrick Smyth in PR, everyone who works with their sons," Kleine said. "So it's really cool for these parents to see what their sons are doing, where they're living, where they're working, just the whole organization."
Parents had the opportunity to speak via video conference with Paton and other Broncos personnel who work with and support their sons inside the organization. Family members had the opportunity to ask questions and became more familiar with the day-to-day experiences of a rookie in the NFL.
"It was awesome," Javonte Williams' mother Shekemia Williams said. "We had a great time. I really enjoyed the Zoom, we got a lot of helpful information and now if we have any questions, we know who we can contact."
Rookie safety Jamar Johnson's grandmother, Mellowese Johnson, was impressed by the level of support she saw for the rookies over the weekend.
"They have a great support system here," Johnson said.
Jamar's mother, Tosha Johnson, felt she had a better understanding of her son's experience with the Broncos at the end of the weekend, and appreciated being welcomed into the Broncos family.
"It was a wonderful experience," Tosha said. "We had a lot of fun. It felt really good to kind of meet the people that are gonna be responsible for my baby. And they made us feel welcome in this family. I think it's important that you do that, because those boys, they're men now but they were boys, and they come from somewhere, so it's good to make the parents feel important too."
For Paton and Kleine, family was the foundation for the entire event. The goal was to help familiarize the families of the rookies with their sons' experiences, and to make them feel like Broncos family themselves.
"We're all one family — players, coaches, staff, family of players, we're all one," Kleine said. "We're all in this together, trying to win together. That's the whole point of all this."