On Tuesday night, Justin Simmons and his wife, Taryn, finally got to see one of their dreams realized.
Since starting the Justin Simmons Foundation in June of 2020 amid the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, they'd been limited to virtual programming and fundraising to make an impact. They thrust themselves fully into it, but they of course looked forward to the day they could host an in-person event where they could reach people in one-on-one settings.
On Empower Field at Mile High's east club level, they finally were able to see that to fruition as "An Evening with Justin Simmons" came to life.
During the event, guests were able to meet the Simmons family, chat with other Broncos players and eat a catered meal as the foundation introduced them to three 2021 Community MVPs: Nashara Ellerbee, Naja'Ray "Ray-Ray" West and Hassan Salem.
"We have amazing people here that are going to be honored throughout the night — people like Nashara and Ray-Ray, and the work that they do as 15-year-olds," Justin Simmons said. "I still can't believe that. They inspire me every day, and I really can't wait for people to be able to meet two amazing individuals in our youth. They're the epitome of why I do what I do. There's so many more Nasharas and Ray-Rays that just need to be supported, and that's why our foundation's here."
Simmons has gotten to know Ellerbee and West through his time visiting the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club, and the two looked to him for guidance as they planned a March for Peace in June of 2021.
Salem, meanwhile, is the head of commercial banking at U.S. Bank and has participated at several community events over the years with the Broncos.
"We're honoring U.S. Bank and Hassan, the amazing work that he does in the community," Simmons said. "It's so great to be able to partner with someone like him. And then U.S. Bank has been gracious enough to help sponsor a lot of the event that's going on tonight in terms of our foundation, and I'm just excited to honor him. I've gotten the chance to know him over dinner and had the chance to talk to him a few times, and he's just such an outstanding individual. I can't wait for people that maybe don't know him to get the chance to meet him tonight as we're going to honor and introduce him."
Through the event, Simmons beamed the entire time as he talked with people who felt connected to his mission, which has always been clear.
"It's so important for me to just be there and be present and everything that has to do with that, because if it wasn't for select individuals in my life as I was growing up, I wouldn't be where I am today, people investing in me, going out of their way to be there for me, [taking] time out of their day to invest in my dreams and my visions and my goals that I had for myself," Simmons said. "And so I know how important it is to invest into our youth in that way."
Below the Fold
During their Week 14 game vs. Detroit, the Broncos excelled in all three phases, but with a stellar performance from running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III, it's no surprise that their offensive line is earning praise.
Pro Football Focus named Denver's offensive line the offensive line of the week as part of their team of the week for Week 14.
"Denver's offensive line showed out against the bottom-tier Detroit Lions on Sunday," PFF's Anthony Treash wrote. "They combined for only four total pressures allowed on 26 dropbacks, which paved the way for an NFL-low pressure rate for Week 14."
According to PFF, two players in particular stepped up their protection against Detroit.
"Guards Dalton Risner and Quinn Meinerz pitched shutouts, with zero losses in pass protection," Treash wrote. "The group as a whole was one of three of Week 14 to earn grades above 75.0 in both pass and run blocking."
In addition to protecting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and paving the way for Denver's second-highest rushing total in a game this season, the Broncos' offensive line was not responsible for a single penalty.
"The cherry on top is that the offensive line didn't commit a single penalty," Treash wrote.