DENVER -- The Broncos stage countless community events, for three decades priding themselves on helping others. The goal is never recognition, but making a difference.
Wednesday, however, they were noticed for their work in a major way.
The Broncos were named one of four semifinalists for ESPN’s 2020 Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Award. The Broncos received a $25,000 grant for their selection and remain a candidate for the final $100,000 grant along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sacramento Kings and New York City FC. The teams will be featured on ESPN shows beginning the week of June 15.
For the Broncos, the honor is a testament to their longterm commitment to community work.
"I really attribute it to the culture of the organization, and I think that was set by (late owner) Mr. (Pat) Bowlen and continued by (CEO) Joe Ellis. When you look across the organization, there’s an emphasis on character, both on the football and business side," Broncos executive director of community development Allie Engelken told Denver7. "What (general manager) John Elway and (director of player personnel) Matt Russell do during the draft process, that directly impacts what we are able to do off the field. I feel like the culture of the organization allows us to do the stuff we are able to do."
The Broncos' resume remains noteworthy. Denver is the only professional sports team to fully fund its own branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which includes the Darrent Williams Memorial Teen Center. The Broncos have employed a multi-pronged approach in their work, focusing on youth development, quality of life, health and wellness, youth football and civic engagement.
Last year alone, 120 Broncos players made 874 appearances, volunteering 1,750 hours. That represents a 79 percent increase from 2017 to 2019. Having attended numerous events, I have received a similar response from the players -- that they are grateful.
"I always appreciate seeing the magic happen in person. Seeing a player with a fan or someone going through a really challenging time in their life having a chance to meet their hero. It could be a player, a cheerleader or Miles the Mascot," Engelken said. "It puts you in a position that is very humbling."