The Denver Broncos are poised to make a massive investment in fifth-year safety Justin Simmons and it's not only due to his impact on the field. On the grid-iron, he's one of the best young safeties in the NFL, coming off an All-Pro season.
Off the field, Simmons has been a stalwart in charity and community out-reach, having worked directly with dozens of organizations, including but not limited to: Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Rescue Mission, Food Bank of the Rockies, Global Down Syndrome Association, Habitat for Humanity, Make-A-Wish Colorado, Mile High United Way, National Sports Center for the Disabled, Playworks Colorado, Special Olympics Colorado, UCHealth and USA Football.
Simmons' passion for helping underprivileged communities and making a positive impact stretches beyond Denver and the Front Range. He is doing what he can to support the protests that have sprung up across the nation in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police while also sharing a strong message: no violence.
As a native of Port Salerno, Florida, Simmons was on hand in the city of Stuart on Sunday, which is five miles outside his hometown, to join in the local protest march in solidarity with the community from which he hails. His impassioned message of peace amid societal protest was one that we can only hope will take root across the country as American cities burn.
"Florida will be the difference today," Simmons told the crowd on hand in Stuart. "You will not have any violence. Martin County, Florida will be the difference. I hope everyone understands that. We have come way too far, okay? We are close. We need to stick together. We need to be unity. This is why this is important. Like I said before, this means more to us than anything you can post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—we need to be united. We need to be united. This is important. So why we're out here, don't forget—it was said earlier—I'm sad we're here but we need to make sure that we understand that we are fighting for equality and not superiority. Make sure we understand that. All lives can't matter until black lives matter. All lives can't matter until black lives matter. We pledge our allegiance to the flag for freedom and justice for all and we do not have our justice, so let's understand that. But we will get it—not by force, okay? Not by force. I hope you guys understand that."
A football blog is not a place for waxing poetic about politics and civil rights. At the end of the day, my job is to analyze sports.
But as Simmons said, regardless of one's skin color or race, this is a time where one would hope Americans can come together in unity and listen to the voices who are crying out.
Does that justify violence or the destruction of private property? Americans will have to answer that question on a person-by-person basis.
But the more intently Americans can try to listen to those who are speaking out against the egregious injustice of George Floyd's death, and others like it, the less violence we're likely to see across the nation at this tumultuous time. I would also suggest listening to the voices of those small business owners whose establishments have been destroyed by rioters and looters.
Simmons' message is an apt one. Two wrongs don't make a right.
Would that we could all take heed. Police brutality has no place in a civilized country. The more we listen, the more likely the protests are to be peaceful instead of violent and destructive.
Thank goodness for good men like Simmons. That's where I'll leave it.