As the NFL kicked off its Salute to Service month, the Broncos hosted numerous members of U.S. military branches to be part of Sunday's game against the Browns.
For Salute to Service month, each Broncos player had the option to represent a specific military service branch on the back of their helmets with the logo sticker of their choice. Many players had personal connections to the branches they picked. Theseare some of their stories.
Andrew Beck: U.S. Army
"Obviously it's a big thing because he's my dad, but I think when it comes down to it, it's every man and woman that wears that uniform, just getting to represent them in a little way with the sticker means a lot to me, for all they do for our country. Growing up in a military family, being exposed to that, I kind of know what they go through. Any recognition that I can give them, I will absolutely do."
Trey Marshall: U.S. Navy
"It's always cool to represent any family member. I could have went [two] ways — Army, because my grandfather was in the Army for probably 25-plus or 30-plus years, but I just went with my sister because she's active right now [in the Navy]. … [Her service means] a lot, because … you never know what might happen, what she might have to go through or if she'll have to leave her family and go do something. Representing her just means a lot for that reason."
Derek Wolfe: U.S. Navy
"[In addition to picking it for my brother-in-law,] I just have a ton of respect for Navy SEALs in general. … I think those guys are badass. I really take a lot of inspiration from those guys and got a lot of respect for them.
On running the memory he has of running out of the tunnel with his brother-in-law in 2017:
"I think it's something, like I said when it happened, it's something we'll have forever. He was really happy about it, so for me to be able to do something like that for him, and I told him, 'It was just as cool for me.' It's a big deal, and it's a good deal any time you get to run out of the tunnel with some military guys, because they don't get any kind of accolades for the stuff that they go through. They're doing it for the country, making the ultimate sacrifice. Any time you sign up for the military, you're putting your life on the line. I've got a ton of respect for those guys."
Justin Simmons: U.S. Air Force
"I choose the Air Force every year. That was the branch of the military that my dad was a part of. I used to know, but I couldn't tell you what rank he was or anything like that. But I know he enlisted after college and he was in the Air Force. I just know how big of a deal it was for him and what it meant to our family at the time when he enlisted. I always put it on my helmet, take a picture and send it to him. That's something that he would be proud of. It's pretty cool.
"My dad's always been like my coach — my hardest critic and my biggest fan at the same time. He can't always make it out to all of the games and I know he's always tuned into them. For him, I know it's cool when we get to be able to wear the decals on the back of our helmets [during] Salute to Service month … he probably wouldn't say it out loud or you would never know, but it means a lot to him. He knows the impact that he's had on our family and knows what he sacrificed and how much that means as a family. I know how much that means, so it's cool for him."
Andy Janovich: U.S. Marine Corps
"I've got a couple buddies that went into the Marines. … The Marines are first in, last out. Those guys are tougher than dirt. They risk everything for us, so just to wear a simple sticker on the back of your helmet, it's no big deal at all. Those guys are awesome."
Chris Harris Jr.: U.S. Navy
"My father-in-law's in the Navy. ... [It's about] just recognizing those guys and all those who put their lives on the line for us so we can be able to play. I just salute those guys and being able to do the dirty work for us to be able to have our freedom to do what we want to do out here.
Fred Brown: National Guard and U.S. Army
"Actually, I'm going to do two of them. I've got a best friend that's in the National Guard and I've got a best friend that's in the Army. … It's a great deal. I was talking to my best friend the other day. Being in any military branch, you've got to be different. It's a lot that goes in it, and from all the stuff that he said they went through in basic training, I don't think I could do it. You've definitely got to be a different breed, you've got to have your mind into it. You've definitely got to love this country."
Connor McGovern: U.S. Army
"One of my best friends from college is now a Green Beret. … He actually is just finishing up, but it's more [about] the pride I've seen in him, the pride he carries from going through all the schools and the hard work it's take him just to get to the point to call himself a Green Beret. It's been fun to see and crazy to see the pride he has in it.
"It's a huge honor [to represent him]. A lot of times, people compare football to the military, and it's never [quite right]. It's a lot different. With what we do, we work together and it's hard, but we're not risking our lives."
Todd Davis: U.S. Navy
"One of my older cousins is in the Navy, so I picked them to honor him and what he's doing for our country and his service. ... I think it's just thanking all the men and women that put their lives on the line for us to live this free life, this carefree life that we're able to live here in America."
Dalton Risner: U.S. Army
"My brother is in his second stint in the military. He went to Fort Benning in Georgia in basic, he was in Airborn Infantry at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, so I take a lot of pride in that and I respect him. They have a lot more courage than we do as football players. They got and serve our country and make it possible for us to play football. My brother is now in Afghanistan and also risking his life for this country, and I have so much respect for him and so much respect for anyone who's in any branch of the military. But the Army holds a special place in my heart."
DeMarcus Walker: U.S. Army
"I love the military in general, but I have a lot of close people that's in the Army. … [To be able to honor them] is great. I feel like two jobs that's overworked and underpaid is teachers and the Army. I feel like they really deserve more, and my love goes out to those guys."