|Position||College||Years in the NFL|
|Cornerback||Ohio State University||4|
Demonstrates Excellence on the Field
Denzel Ward was drafted as the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. Since then, he was voted into the 2018 Pro Bowl and named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 5 in 2018 and was a two-time Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week (Week 1, Week 5) in 2018. Denzel became the sixth Browns rookie to be named to the Pro Bowl and the first since Joe Thomas in 2007. He tied for second in the NFL with a career-high 18 passes defended in 12 games in 2020. He finished tied for second among all NFL rookies with three interceptions in 2018. Additionally, Denzel became the fourth-youngest player in NFL history with two interceptions in a game after recording two during his NFL debut in Week 1 in 2018. Denzel joined Clarence Scott as the only Browns rookies to record two interceptions in their NFL debut. He is tied for the team lead with six passes defensed and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a 99-yard touchdown in the Browns' Week 9 win at the Cincinnati Bengals. The play is the longest interception-return of the 2021 season and is the longest in the NFL since Texans S Justin Reid in 2018 (101 yards, Nov. 18).
Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts this Year
This past year, Denzel has hosted numerous charity events, including Madden competitions and watch parties to support the work of his "Make them Know Your Name" (MTKYN) Foundation and various health initiatives. He is currently sharing his annual Defending for a Difference campaign with fans, where after every Browns win, he pledges dollars go toward funding CPR/AED equipment and training that will help heart-related fatalities and prevent others from having to go through the tragedy his family experienced. This summer, he donated $20,000 worth of new Nike gear and equipment to John Adams High School's football team prepared for the upcoming season. John Adams is one of the 11 sites of the Browns' synthetic turf field projects as part of the Haslam and Johnson families' commitment to education and youth football in Northeast Ohio. Last holiday season, Denzel and his foundation delivered turkeys and gift cards to Eastwood Day Treatment Center to ensure families would not go hungry for Thanksgiving. The families also received information on the importance of heart health and tips for monitoring blood pressure. He also hosts annual coat drives during the past three winters, giving away more than 1,000 coats for students at East Prep Village Prep Willard School, Marion C. Seltzer Elementary, and Garfield Elementary School.
Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past
In February 2020, Denzel participated in a Euclid High School visit, during which he donated CPR kits to the school. Then, once COVID-19 hit, Denzel pledged to take on the most significant monthly expense for 21 people out of work due to the pandemic. "It was very personal… A lot of people were crying and emotional and were just filled with joy that the foundation and I found a way to help them during a time like that." He has participated in a Twitch game live streaming event for the WHO's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and PSA, a Madden Tournament to benefit COVID-19 charities, a Stay in the Game COVID-19 PSA, donated suite tickets, and a videogame session to the AHA Cleveland Heart Ball, and donated exercise equipment to Quinlan. Once the season started in September of last year, Denzel launched his Defending for Dollars campaign through MTKYN, which invites fans to pledge money for every interception or pass defended by Denzel. Denzel chose to raffle off two tickets to anyone who donated to the campaign to push this initiative further. Also, last year, Denzel specifically launched a heart health campaign that focuses on the Black community.
In 2019, Denzel hosted over 400 kids at his own Make Them Know Your Name Football Camp in Macedonia, Ohio, which was free to kids in grades two through eight. He also hosted a fundraiser for his foundation at Fat Head's Brewery. Other notable community events Denzel supported in 2019 include Cleveland Browns Foundation Stay in the Game! Video recordings, the Browns CR Day, the American Heart Association Heart and Stroke Ball, a Military Day Training Camp visit, a back-to-school shopping spree for Bedford Teachers, granting a Make a Wish, hosting a coat drive for 500 students at E Prep Village Prep Willard School, Jarvis Landry's Celebrity Softball Game, and Thank You Coach Weekend. In 2018, he partook in the Browns Foundation Golf Tournament, the Rookie Experience (Summer Blitz with Adapted Football League), a scholarship recipient meet and greet at training camp, Medina PAL autographs at training camp, granting a Make a Wish, two special game-day visits, volunteering at the Food Bank on Thanksgiving, the 6th Annual Feed the Need in Ohio City, and a coat giveaway at Garfield Elementary. He has also supported the Make Them Know Your Name Foundation through the My Cause, My Cleats initiative in his years with the Browns.
Demonstrates Consistency in Positive Character and Models a Lifestyle of Giving Back
Throughout his four seasons with the Browns, Denzel has proven his commitment to the Northeast Ohio community. He is actively looking for ways to get involved, specifically raising awareness about heart health. He often goes out of his way to visit community special guests and youth through Make-A-Wish during Training Camp and throughout the year. During his first Make Them Know Your Name Football Camp, there were only supposed to be 200 kids at the event, but due to a glitch in the system, the event had more than 400 kids registered. Instead of turning them away, Denzel accommodated the kids by getting more t-shirts made and ensuring all had a great camp experience. A Cleveland native, Denzel consistently has shown his commitment to the Cleveland Browns and the Northeast Ohio community since being selected by Cleveland with the No. 4 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Denzel has displayed this passion by establishing his "Make Them Know Your Name Foundation," which aims to raise heart health awareness and funds. His father, Paul G. Ward Jr., passed away due to cardiac arrest that ultimately could have been prevented with earlier detection and intervention. "Make Them Know Your Name" is a mantra for Denzel both on and off the field, a message his father would regularly share with him before engaging in the classroom or on the football field. Denzel donates needed defibrillators to gyms, training studios, schools, and other public facilities to prevent heart-related fatalities through his foundation. Beyond heart health, Denzel significantly impacted the Cleveland community in youth engagement, food distributions, COVID-19 relief, and more. He often participates in numerous Browns community events, including youth football camps, holiday events, and Make-a-Wish experiences. As a Brown, Denzel has modeled positive leadership and impactful community engagement for his teammates.