Sacco Sez: Honoring the Broncos' long history of community service

The Denver Broncos not only have represented the city and region in a championship manner on the field, but they have a long history of giving back to the community, as well.

The generosity of our late Owner Pat Bowlen has long been recognized, but most recently in the many articles written after his passing.

The players who have represented his organization, though, have made numerous notable contributions in their own rights.

Last week, All-Pro outside linebacker Von Miller was named the winner of the 2019 Jefferson Award for Public Service in Sports

This was a major award given in Washington D.C. and was reflective of Von’s great work with children for several years through Von's Vision. Miller, of course, was also the team's Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee last season.

He is a classy representative of Broncos players in the community, but Von is not the first.

On May 17, Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little received the University of Denver's Distinguished Alumnus award and an Honorary Doctorate degree for his lifetime of public service beyond his play on the field.

When you google Ring of Fame quarterback Charley Johnson, he shows up as “American professor,” not “football player,” an amazing feat in itself.

A 4.0 graduate of New Mexico State in chemical engineering, Johnson went on to earn master’s and doctorate degrees, while playing, from the prestigious Washington University of St. Louis.

After his playing days he headed the chemical engineering department at his alma mater and even has a chair in his name at the school.

He is one of the most accomplished and beloved professors in school history.

While our great fans know John Elway as a Hall of Fame quarterback and the face of the franchise, many might not be aware that John was named NFL Man of the Year in 1992 for his community work.

Peyton Manning won that same award while with Indianapolis in 2005, and he continued his philanthropic endeavors while with the Broncos.

Back in 1977, Lyle Alzado was named the winner of the Byron “Whizzer” White Award for community service.

Alzado worked tirelessly with countless youth organizations and I can personally vouch for his sincerity.

Lyle never said no to a kid and absolutely had a heart of gold.

Way back at the start of the Broncos, Gene Mingo was leading the American Football League in scoring and was a pioneer as the game's first black placekicker. Mingo, too, is in our Ring of Fame.

But I can attest that there are dozens, maybe hundreds of people who know him more as a drug counselor who literally saved many a life in the Denver area for decades after his playing days.

While these players, past and present, might be among the most prominent, there have been many more Broncos who have freely given their time and talent to those who have needed a helping hand.

So here’s a big tip of the hat to Von Milker and all other current players making a difference.

Former Air Force Academy Coach Fisher DeBerry has said, “when you see a turtle sitting in a fence post, remember, he did not get there by himself. Someone lifted him up.”

A lot of Bronco players have lifted a lot of folks up over the years, and I am proud that community giving is part of our team’s culture.

That important part of being a member of this community was emphasized by Pat Bowlen, and is a tradition continuing today.

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