The Mile High Report Hall of Fame Class of 2015-16 selection process continues, and we begin with the Darrent Williams Sportsperson of the Year.
We've tallied your nominations for all of the categories and will open the polls for each, but we are starting with the Bronco who made us the most proud over the past year.
Though you know each of these candidates well, take a moment to read the nomination info excerpted below and then cast your vote. The polls close at midnight July 24, so do not procrastinate!
Sportsperson of the Year 2016 nominees
The MHR Sportsperson of the Year inductee is a special award given to one former or active player, coach, or difference-maker to the Denver Broncos Football Club this past year. The award specifically honors those who contribute to all of the following - outstanding sportsmanship, noteworthiness, football contributions and community service. Basically, a football figure who we, as fans, are most proud to say represented the orange and blue over the past calendar year.
You can vote for your favorite candidates for Sportsperson of the Year 2016 right here, but take a minute to read the nominations for all our outstanding team leaders in the past year:
David Bruton Jr.
A finalist for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, David Bruton Jr. embodied everything this award is about - high-caliber football along with high-caliber character.
Although no longer a Bronco, Bruton Jr. was a major leader on the team (despite not being an official starter), gave everything he had in games (including playing on a broken leg against Pittsburgh), and started a foundation to improve literacy among kids in underprivileged schools.
Go 2 Notre Dame. Get a Degree. Or 2. Then go to the NFL. Then win a World Championship. questions? See @D_Brut30 pic.twitter.com/a7Sqa6CIRH— Ryan Harris (@salaams_from_68) June 13, 2016
As a former teacher, Bruton Jr. had a real passion for kids and education as well as staying fit and healthy (which led to his other partnerships with drinking milk and the Play60 campaign). He was also regularly involved in team community efforts in local schools and charities. His presence on the field may be replaceable given this team's outstanding secondary depth, but his off-the-field contributions will not.
As WyoBronco noted in his nomination:
The man did so much in the Denver community and should be recognized.
And Topher Doll added:
The guy was THE face of special teams almost his entire career here as one of the longest serving team captains in team history. Combine with his immense work in the community with his charity about getting books out to children and he's a grade A hero to me.
Chris Harris Jr.
A second-time nominee for this award, CHJ is no doubt a hero to many Broncos fans, in part for his community work but most certainly for his loyalty to this team.
Taking what could only be considered a "hometown discount" when he re-signed his contract, Harris Jr. let Broncos Country know that he valued the loyalty Denver had shown him when they picked him up as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas and never looked back.
Senior Analyst @PFF_Sam explains why @AaronDonald97 and @ChrisHarrisJr should be much higher on the #NFLTop100 list: https://t.co/WUFQiB41ul— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 7, 2016
CHJ is continually one of the most underrated corners in the league, and even though Broncos Country isn't shy about complaining, you won't hear it from CHJ. He just goes out on the field and shows everyone why they shouldn't have forgotten about him.
Tim Lynch pointed out CHJ's "Underdog" foundation, and GSharp added an excellent commentary supporting the nomination:
I mean besides being one of the top corners in football, and besides having a charity to raise coin for underdogs, and besides taking a big paycut cause he wanted the Broncos to have the cash to sign others who could make a difference... besides all that, he's always got this great smile. Oh, and he is the most vivacious of the Broncos in an interview. I nominate the man, Chris Harris Junior.
Brandon McManus (or "McMoney" as I like to refer to him) solidified his grit as a clutch player just about every game last season, but his work with the anti-bullying cause is even better as Ian St. Clair noted in his nomination of the young kicker.
"We can't forget the heart and soul of this team's offensive firepower, kicker Brandon McManus." President Obama pic.twitter.com/1NTrTZIIPe— Brandon McManus (@thekidmcmanus) June 6, 2016
ESPN featured McManus' work with his Anti-Bully Squad earlier this winter, pointing out that the kicker has really embraced his community responsibility as a star athlete and been a huge encouragement to kids all over.
You need to read the story because it's outstanding, but here's an excerpt showing just how much McManus has done:
Season Hillery, mother of five in Northglenn, Colo., could go on for days about how much McManus has helped her and her middle child. While confronting a lung disease that will require a double transplant, she was also dealing with the vile reality that neighbors were verbally harassing her nine-year-old son, Ryder, who has Down syndrome.
McManus decided he should head over to Ryder Hillery's house and play football with him in the front yard, in his orange Broncos jersey, in full view of the neighbors. "To try to silently shut them up," the kicker said, "to prove how capable kids with Down syndrome are."
He stayed for two hours. Nearly every day since, Ryder has watched an iPad video of the catch he had with McManus, who has remained in touch with the family.
"It's hard to put into words how Brandon's made our family feel," Season Hillery said. "Nobody told Brandon he had to do this; he volunteered out of the goodness of his heart. Now every time the Broncos play, there's Ryder cheering for Brandon on TV."
A third-year nominee, John Elway the GM continues every year to do what is at the heart of this award - make a difference.
Broncos are defending SB champs because 1) Von Miller and 2) John Elway drafted Von Miller. So there's enough credit to go around. #9news— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) July 11, 2016
Though a nomination should have been made for Gary Kubiak in this vein (I blame myself - meant to nominate him and forgot!), Elway is responsible for Kubiak's hiring, which led to the hiring of Wade Phillips and Bill Kollar, and that single offseason move made the world of difference in this team's 2015-16 performance.
First, Elway did a phenomenal job overhauling the coaching staff, getting the gang back together, and putting the team in position to win SB50.
Second, it's just not right to have Manning in there without John Elway too.
Third, there are so many great choices it's hard to pick just one for this award (e.g., Bruton for playing almost a whole game on a broken leg as well as his community service, Miller for his superb play in the playoffs and the SB MVP, Harris for being such a team guy, Wade for being a great DC, Ware for being not only a great player but also a great mentor to other players, etc.).
So, this one's for John.
The Mad Fanatic
Next to the Barrel Man, the Mad Fanatic has to be one of the ultimate super fans in Broncos Country. He not only goes to every home game, he brings the party bus and the war paint, ready to do battle for the Broncos anytime, anywhere. He writes songs and makes videos to get Broncos Country pumped up for a game, get behind a player...basically get their game face on.
Champ Wright said it even better in his nomination:
The dude's not even from here, nor lives here, yet reps the team better than most natives do, and his songs make us all swell with team pride.
His Super Bowl 50 victory video is good, and I really like the beat in "Pay Up" (for Miller, of course) and his lyrics in his tribute to Peyton Manning are outstanding, but one of Mad Fanatic's best ever is the "Road to SB50"
So much of the news on Miller the past few months has either been about his contract, his dancing or his naked booty (two of which I'm always happy to talk about; I'll let you guess which one I'm not). But lost in his contract drama and sheer dominance as a football player is the fact that Miller has one of the more unique and helpful charities out there to bring a real service to kids.
In his nomination of Miller, mdierk noted, "He has a charity for providing glasses to underprivileged children so that their eyesight problems don't hold them back."
Von's Vision not only helps underprivileged kids who cannot afford help with eye care, it also makes kids feel really good about needing glasses. Miller has repeatedly talked this year about being a "nerd" or a "geek" and how he's "blind as a bat" without his glasses - all of which help make kids who need glasses feel cool. I mean, Von "I can chase you down and kick your a**" Miller is cool, and that makes any other "four-eyed" kid feel extra cool in his/her specs too.
The Broncos' new defensive coordinator last year tried to never take any credit for what he did in creating the NFL's most dominant defense last season.
But we as fans know the same thing those players in the locker room knew - a coach can make a big difference. His practice regimens, his player schemes and his in-game strategies are the difference between a group of talented players and a defensive unit that is one of the best of all time.
Mad Mel's nomination summed it all up:
He was the architect behind the best defense in the NFL, is a tremendous personality, and has one of the best and most hilarious Twitter accounts in Broncos Country.
"And we got to see Lady Gaga!" -- Wade Phillips (h/t @BeforeFamePics): https://t.co/beIp5rG5tA https://t.co/KnQLmaOrDo— SB Nation (@SBNation) February 12, 2016
Vote now for the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year
And feel free to mention your choice in the comments!!