For as much bad news that circulates the NFL, there are some great hearts within the league, too.
Look no further than Denver Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who has been named the team’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. It’s his third time winning the award in the last four years.
The honor recognizes a player for his outstanding leadership both on and the field and in the community.
The six-year player out of Kentucky went undrafted in 2008, but he has been named a team captain for the Broncos in each of his six seasons.
Off the field, Woodyard started the 16Ways Foundation, which benefits at-risk youth. His foundation hosts events throughout the year such as an MVP Dinner, football camps in Denver, LaGrange, GA, and Lexington, KY. It also puts on a holiday toy drive each December to benefit local charities.
“He drives me to be a better person. He drove me to be a better player. He drove me to work like I had never worked before,” former teammate Braxton Kelley told Predominantly Orange last summer at one of Woodyard’s football camps. Kelley also served as Woodyard’s best man at his wedding last spring.
Woodyard’s 16Ways Foundation has also stepped up its anti-bullying efforts, and a big part of that is educating the parents.
“We’re always worrying about that kid that’s out there bullying,” 16Ways Co-founder and Woodyard’s mentor Derrick Kelley told a group of parents at the Denver football camp. “Those kids in the streets are not bullies. Those kids are protecting themselves cause that’s what type of environment they’re in. Sometimes we may be the bully in our house, and our kids are watching. It does me no good telling these kids out here that I’m going to protect them if they don’t want to go home to you guys’ house.”
In addition to 16Ways, Woodyard participates in team events as well. He’s volunteered his time for Hometown Huddle, Habitat for Humanity, and the Broncos Holiday Party for the Denver Rescue Mission.
Woodyard will be recognized during the Broncos home game against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 8, and the Broncos will donate $10,000 to 16Ways. Woodyard will have his name submitted to the NFL for consideration as the national award winner, which will be announced during Super Bowl week.
The team has also recognized five players as Denver Broncos Community Ambassadors: safety Mike Adams, safety David Bruton, guard Ben Garland, tight end Virgil Green, and linebacker Steven Johnson.
Shout out to all the Broncos doing great things on and off the field, and showing exactly how ever football player should use his platform –for positivity.