The Marty Smith Podcast: Justin Simmons Opens Up About Walter Payton Man of the Year Nomination

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

In the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast, the show welcomes NFL All-Pro Justin Simmons to the podcast. The Denver Broncos safety was selected as the franchise’s 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, and opened up about the impact he’s making not just on the field, but off of it as well.

For the last six seasons, Simmons has plied his trade in Denver. The franchise selected the safety out of Boston College in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Ever since, he’s been wreaking havoc on offenses across the league. In six seasons, he has 465 tackles, 49 pass deflections, and 21 interceptions. In addition to his solid stats, he earned a spot in last season’s Pro Bowl, and has made the All-Pro team twice, including this season. Yet Justin Simmons’ time in Denver has been much more than just his impressive play on the gridiron.

Marty Smith Calls Justin Simmons’ Philanthropy Work “Beautiful” and “Important”

While many players use their fame and fortune for good, Simmons has gone out of his way to make a difference in his community, which Marty Smith highlighted when introducing his guest. Each year, all 32 NFL teams nominate one player who’s made a significant impact on their communities. The league has handed out the Man of the Year award since 1970, and named it after the late Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton in 1999.

The award recognizes the NFL’s best when it comes to on-field play and philanthropy combined as the winner receives $250,000 donated to a charity of their choice. Additionally, the other 31 nominees receive up to $40,000 donated to their favorite charity as well.

Los Angeles Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth may have won this year’s award. But that doesn’t take away from all the good that Simmons and his foundation have accomplished this year. The Pro Bowler spoke about his foundation and what influenced he and his wife, Taryn, to start it while speaking to Marty Smith and co-host Wes Blankenship.

“For me it was a no-brainer,” Justin Simmons said on the podcast. “Whenever I have an opportunity to kinda give back and set something up that means a lot to me, it’s going to be geared just towards that. So the Justin Simmons Foundation is really geared towards helping our youth and empowering and educating them through any means possible.”

Justin Simmons Talks About Producing An Anti-Bullying Musical

Another important part of Justin Simmons’ off-the-field work was funding an anti-bullying musical. Speak Life – The Musical to End Bullying aims to inspire change and awaken empathy in today’s youth. Bullying continues to be a huge obstacle for children in all grades, and host Marty Smith made sure to commend Simmons for his contributions to the project.

“Obviously I’m biased, but I think it’s going to be the best thing for our students in schools. Really from elementary all the way to high school,” Justin Simmons explained to Marty Smith. “It’s just going to be a great message for kids to be able to lock in on the power of your words and the power of how impactful those can be whether they show up now or 10 years from now.”

Believe it or not, even NFL star Justin Simmons dealt with bullying as a young man. When his family moved from Virginia to South Florida as he started middle school, the transition didn’t go well. He felt ostracized at times and didn’t fit in right away. Eventually, a few students befriended him and it made all the difference. Simmons acknowledges the impact that made on his life. That’s why the anti-bullying musical has become such an important project for Simmons.

“I’m an advocate for [anti-bullying] because I understand it on a certain level what that looks like – the isolation, the ostracizing and how impactful it can be,” Simmons shared. “How empowering it can be to have someone come up to you and just say hi. Or include you into a game of basketball or whatever it is at recess. I just think [the musical] is going to be extremely important and really helpful for our students and our kids.”

Make sure to tune in to The Marty Smith Podcast and check out the full conversation with Justin Simmons on Spotify, Apple, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.