Good morning, Broncos Country!
Broncos’ safety Justin Simmons didn’t get the Pro Bowl offer he deserved, but the local media did honor him with his second Darrent Williams Good Guy Award, chosen by media members for the player who best exemplifies Williams’ “willingness and candor and accountability” when it comes to talking with the media.
“In what has been a difficult season for the Broncos on the field, Justin was the winner of this award by perhaps the largest voting margin since we first presented it in 2007,” said ESPN Senior Writer Jeff Legwold. “He was cited, over and over again, for his unwavering professionalism both after wins or losses, as well as the willingness to offer opinions at every opportunity that were thoughtful and refreshingly candid.’’
In his introduction of the award, Legwold also noted that “good guy” qualities are most genuinely revealed in a team’s tough times, not in its victorious times. Legwold’s dad used
“My dad never saw an NFL game in his life but worked for the railroad and he always used to say, ‘Anybody can lead the victory parade.’ That you really found out about people when times were difficult and when times were tough,” Legwold said, adding that Simmons’ name kept popping up in the conversation during a difficult season.
And for good reason.
Simmons has remained a steady but also real voice to the media and fans about the difficulty playing in another lost season.
“Having a tough season is one thing and then having to report on it isn’t always easy,” Simmons said. “Just trying to be there and answer questions to the best of my ability....I just really appreciate the recognition from it.”
Created in memory of former Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, who was killed by gunshot in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2007, after playing the final game of his second season just hours before.
“I think it’s important,” Simmons said of the honesty and accessibility with the media. “It was just said, it’s easy to lead a victory parade. You’re winning and it’s easy to talk on all the positives when you’re winning. It’s not as easy to talk about the negatives, especially if you didn’t have a great game yourself.”
Simmons emphasized the difficulty reporters have in getting material they can use to write about the game - and there’s no better material than asking the guys who just played the game. But it’s not always easy to get them to talk.
“I feel like it’s just our job to be able to do that and to be able to reciprocate that,” Simmons said. “I think it’s important.”
The award comes on the heels of the Broncos selecting the free safety for its nomination of the NFL-wide Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
“It’s huge. The Walter Payton [nomination] is something beyond my wildest dreams that I thought would never come to fruition,” he said. “It’s just been nothing but a blessing this year. I know the season hasn’t gone the way we wanted as a team, but just in terms of everything off the field, it’s just been a blessing. I’m nothing but thankful for that.”
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