Demonstrates Excellence on the Field
Justin Simmons is a fifth-year safety who played in 58 games, including 48 starts, during his first four seasons in Denver. Not including the start to the 2020 season, Simmons has posted 275 tackles (197 solo), eleven interceptions (186 yards), 28 passes defensed, two blocked field goals, one blocked extra point and 12 special-teams stops. Simmons, who has played 100 percent of Denver's defensive snaps to start the 2020 season, owns the longest active streak of consecutive snaps played (2,523) among NFL defensive players and is the only defensive player to appear in 100 percent of his team's defensive snaps since the start of the 2018 season.
Simmons was named first team All-Pro by Pro Football Focus and second team All-Pro by the Associated Press in 2019 after becoming the 13th safety since 1991 to record at least 90 tackles (93), four interceptions and 15 passes defensed in a single season. Simmons started all 16 games in 2018, ranked second on the team in tackles and added three interceptions and four passes defensed. Simmons started all 13 games played during his second NFL season in 2017. Simmons was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts this Year
Justin Simmons continues to set an example of excellence and life-changing impact in the community. An incredibly deserving Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee in 2019, Justin followed up that distinction by raising the bar even higher in 2020. With a year and offseason like no other, Justin made impactful donations and commitments, working tirelessly to make a difference in the areas of youth development, social justice and COVID-19 relief.
In June of 2020, Justin announced the establishment of the Justin Simmons Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on youth development, hunger relief, educational initiatives and other charitable causes. Through strategic programming and initial outreach in 2020, he is dedicated to mentoring young people, promoting the benefits of youth sports and supporting youth education – all with the goal of leveling the playing field for children who don't start on the same platform.
Justin has continued to combat systemic injustices against Black Americans and people of color as a locker room, league and community leader. He delivered inspiring protest speeches — specifically addressing issues of racial inequity and police brutality — in both his hometown of Stuart, Fl., and at the state capitol in Denver before marching alongside his teammates as well as protestors of varying ages, races and backgrounds.
Through large group and individual breakout meetings amongst Broncos players and coaches, Justin was a significant leader in the creation and implementation of the team's Inspire Change program, which adds and expands team programming in the following areas: Education, Awareness & Funding, Diversity & Inclusion, and Activism. He lent his name and support for legislative change — signing the NFL Players Coalition's Letter to Congress calling for the bill to end qualified immunity and actively participated in lobbying and advocating for Colorado Senate Bill 20-217, the statewide bipartisan law enforcement integrity act (mandating body cameras, public reporting on policing, reign in use of deadly force by officers, and more).
Justin's activism continues during private meetings with civic leaders including Colorado Governor Jared Polis, five local Police Chiefs and Sheriffs, U.S. Attorney Jason St. Julien, the Vera Institute of Justice and the ACLU of Colorado. He understands that if the United States is to move past a set of prejudices that have existed for centuries, the youngest residents of this country must be educated and empowered to swap division for empathy and understanding.
While representing the NFL on a national Youth for Change Town Hall, presented by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the NFL Foundation, Justin joined a panel dedicated to creating the same change, focusing on race, social justice and criminal justice reform reaching hundreds of Boys & Girls Clubs members. And, as Justin hoped, it helped today's leaders reach the next generation of change-makers.
As one of the main focuses of the Broncos Inspire Change Program, the Denver Broncos launched a multi-week teen program at the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club in partnership with Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE). The program allows participants to have important and difficult conversations about race, perceptions and stereotypes. Justin's dedication to youth development inspired him to commit to be a full and active participant in the season-long virtual leadership program with young Colorado residents and sets aside time each week for the hour-long discussions.
"I have a tremendous and amazing platform to be able to help so many people around the country, especially our youth, to have a better future," he said. "It's not about me. It's not about what I've already done or what I've already gone through, but what I can do to help our younger generation to break this life-long, 400-plus year [cycle] of systemic racism and things of that nature that have oppressed so many people before me."
Early in the 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 school meals could still receive them throughout an extended spring break and subsequent closures. Weeks after announcing his personal donation, he teamed up with Dairy MAX, Fuel Up to Play 60 and the Denver Broncos to contribute an additional $50,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund to support local schools through emergency microgrants administered by GENYouth.
Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past
Justin has consistently demonstrated a commitment to using his platform to impact the lives around him. Over the last five years, no Broncos player has committed more time and resources to giving back than Justin Simmons.
His impact spans far beyond the number of events he has been a part of during his time as a Denver Bronco and resonates on a deeper level with the countless non-profit organizations and schools that he meets on a weekly basis. Throughout five seasons, he has worked directly with dozens of community organizations focusing on Youth Development, Quality of Life, Health & Wellness, Youth Football and Civic Engagement.
In addition to direct non-profit outreach, Justin has worked with nearly 50 different schools (elementary through high school) focusing on bullying prevention, health and wellness, and empowering student-athletes. Most notably, he has reached more than 3,250 kids through various PLAY 60 events with the Denver Broncos and in his role as a Fuel Up to Play 60 Ambassador. Now in his third year as FUTP60 Ambassador, Justin focuses messaging around youth physical activity and nutrition by encouraging students to be leaders in their own schools. Justin advocates for access to nutritious meals in schools throughout the state of Colorado and filmed a PSA for the Colorado Department of Education to inform parents of the process for registering for free and reduced meals, ensuring that all students have the fuel needed to be successful in the classroom.
Demonstrates Consistency in Positive Character and Models a Lifestyle of Giving Back
Justin Simmons' leadership style is to lead by example, and he has elevated himself as a leader on and off the field. Following his rookie season, he has been named a game-day captain during each season with the team: 2017 (at OAK), 2018 (at K.C.), 2019 (at LAC) and 2020 (vs. TB).
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 two-time Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee (2019-2020). The Denver Broncos presented the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award to Justin following both the 2017 and 2019 seasons. The award, voted upon by the team's local media, is annually presented to the Bronco who best exemplifies enthusiasm, cooperation and honesty while dealing with members of the press. To date, Justin is the youngest player to ever win the Award and only the second two-time winner of the award. For these reasons and many more, the Denver Broncos are proud to name Justin Simmons as their 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.