|Position||College||Years in the NFL|
Demonstrates Excellence on the Field
Justin Simmons is a sixth-year safety who was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2020 and recognized as a first-team All-Pro by Pro Football Focus and second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press in 2019. Heading into the 2021 season, Justin was named by a panel of NFL executives, coaches, and players assembled by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler as the league's second-best safety.
Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts this Year
Since receiving his second consecutive WPMOY nomination in 2020, Justin has continued to elevate his community work and deepen his impact. He expanded his work with RISE by speaking on its SBLV Leadership Panel and meeting monthly with Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club teens he mentored during the team's RISE 9-week leadership program. Stemming from that in-season program, Justin teamed up with teenagers Nashara and Naja'Ray (pictured above) to support their efforts to plan a March for Peace, a community event focused on effecting change in their neighborhood and country, as well as providing an opportunity to remember and mourn loved ones lost to violence. Justin and his foundation donated t-shirts for the walk, and he brought his teammates to walk alongside club and community members.
Throughout the past 12 months, Justin and his teammates have met with local activists to push for the de-incarceration of non-violent offenders and clemency reform. Justin was featured in ACLU Colorado's Redemption Campaign, a statewide initiative to safely release thousands of people from prison who pose no public safety risk by challenging Colorado Governor Jared Polis to use his existing clemency powers in new and transformational ways. On multiple occasions, Justin has met directly with Governor Polis' office to request they consistently meet with impacted families and exercise his clemency power regularly throughout the year, rather than solely during the holidays. After launching the Justin Simmons Foundation in 2020, he expanded its impact with the inaugural "31 for the Holidays" program, announcing grants to Denver Rescue Mission and Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and Martin County — three key places Justin has called home. The grants provided holiday gifts for more than 130 children and supported 25 families.
In addition to impacting large groups, organizations, and systems, Justin has always found ways to connect with and change the lives of individual families. After hearing about a family who lost their son, also named Justin Simmons, the Broncos safety connected with the family to express his condolences. For many, that would have been enough. Still, he took it a step further, inviting the family of eight to Colorado for the team's home opener and taking care of all associated costs, including airfare, accommodations, tickets, and more. Justin continues to show up for team community events, including PLAY 60 clinics, children's hospital visits, serving meals to the homeless, and more — leading the team with most community appearances by a Denver Bronco and leading as an example for younger players on the team.
Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past
Since being drafted by the Denver Broncos, Justin has consistently demonstrated a commitment to giving back and using his platform as an NFL player to impact the lives around him. No player has committed more time and resources to give back to the Denver metro area than Justin in the last six years. Justin continues to grow his community impact strategically and thoughtfully, deepening his impact and creating a lasting legacy. When our community needs to be shifted with the emergence of COVID-19 and reckoning on issues of social justice and inequalities, Justin stepped up to the plate. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Justin announced that he and his family made a personal $10,000 contribution to the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Foundation's Food Security Fund. The fund helped ensure that children who rely on free or reduced-cost meals from DPS every weekday could still receive them throughout an extended spring break and subsequent school closures.
Justin also took an active role in helping lead the team's actions for social justice. In addition to speaking at marches for racial justice in Denver and his hometown of Stuart, Florida, Justin participated in the team's weekly "Power Hour" meetings dedicated to player-led social justice causes. Through large group and individual breakout meetings amongst Broncos players and coaches, Justin was a significant leader in creating and implementing the team's Inspire Change program, focusing on programming in Education, Awareness & Funding, Diversity & Inclusion, and Activism. In addition to direct non-profit outreach and partnerships, Justin has worked with nearly 60 different elementary through high schools focusing on bullying prevention, health and wellness, and empowering student-athletes. He has reached more than 3,500 kids through various PLAY 60 events with the Denver Broncos and in his role as the Denver Broncos Fuel Up to Play 60 Ambassador.
Demonstrates Consistency in Positive Character and Models a Lifestyle of Giving Back
Justin's leadership style is to lead by example. In six seasons with the Denver Broncos, Justin has elevated himself and is seen as a leader on and off the field. Following his rookie season, Justin has been named a game-day captain during each season with the team and was elevated to a season-long team captain in 2021, as voted on by his teammates. Off the field, Justin is a two-time Denver Broncos Community Ambassador (2017-2018), an award presented to the players with exemplary commitment to giving back to the community, and now a three-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee (2019-2021). He was also honored in 2021 with the Pop Warner Little Scholars Inspiration to Youth Award in recognition of his love and dedication to football, his community, and his role as an inspiration to young people everywhere. Justin became the first three-time winner of the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award (2017, '19-20) as voted on by the team's local media. To date, Justin is the youngest player ever to win the award, which is annually presented to the Bronco, who best exemplifies enthusiasm, cooperation, and honesty while dealing with press members.