Justin Simmons is new face of the franchise for the Denver Broncos

DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 31: Justin Simmons #31 of the Denver Broncos takes the field before the game against the Washington Football Team at Empower Field At Mile High on October 31, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 31: Justin Simmons #31 of the Denver Broncos takes the field before the game against the Washington Football Team at Empower Field At Mile High on October 31, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos trade of Von Miller passed the torch of the “face of the franchise” to another worthy candidate on the roster.

Von Miller has been the face of the franchise since Peyton Manning left the Denver Broncos. Now, new general manager George Paton made the courageous decision to trade the organization’s franchise player Miller, doing right by him, to the Los Angeles Rams.

Miller’s journey should be commended and admired for his battle through adversity. He became the team’s best player and one who was a true leader in every phase of the game. Now a torch has been passed to a current player who embodies what the face of the franchise player should be.

The face of the franchise player will accept responsibility, understand a need for change, act on transforming the narrative, rise when everything seems down, and be a strong voice on and off the field. Position value should not matter in a face of the franchise debate. If a player fully checks every box or embodies every characteristic for the face of the franchise, then he should be strongly considered for that title.

If they’re a quarterback, running back, cornerback, safety, linebacker, defensive linemen, kicker, punter, etc., and meet the qualifications of the face of the franchise player, then keep them. The Denver Broncos currently have a player who fully embodies what it means to be the face of the franchise. His name is Justin Simmons.

The face of the Denver Broncos is Justin Simmons

It’s been nothing but a trend upwards for Simmons since entering the National Football League. Every single year since his first season, Simmons has shown both growth as a player and person. One constant remained and that’s his strong faith and family. Simmons has told me on a few occasions his goal is to always save souls and win Super Bowls. That sure sounds like a face of the franchise mentality.

Super Bowls are always a player’s goal when stepping onto a field, but going the extra mile for someone who needs it more off the field is priceless. Leaving a legacy where you care for the person next to you and one who is steadily growing into the player through his God-given talent is beautiful to watch unfold.

Brian Dawkins is one of the few examples of a safety who represented the Philadelphia Eagles as a face of the franchise player. Dawkins is a different player at the position than Simmons, but the elite, playmaking style, and off-field antics are similar. The playmaker aspect reflects different styles; however, impacting the game is the same.

Both Simmons and Dawkins are God-fearing individuals who care for the community and locker room. The mentality to heal the world and be the leader a team needs is reflective of the type of face the franchise teams need. Also like Dawkins, Simmons has been beloved by his community and teammates all through his career with the Denver Broncos. It’s even left a lasting impression on George Paton.

As mentioned above, it is 100 percent acceptable for there to be two defensive “face of the franchise” players. The Baltimore Ravens had both Ed Reed and Ray Lewis on one football team. We single out Reed because in his case, a safety was considered to be a “face of the franchise” player.

Reed is well regarded as one of the best safeties of his generation. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu even qualifies for being considered a face of the franchise player. It does not matter what walk of life a player or person comes from. If they become a strong voice and leader, then people will follow.

Simmons has quickly become a voice of reason in the locker room and one the players value like the Reed’s, Dawkins, Polamalu’s of the world. Simmons is not any of those players comparably; however, like mentioned with Dawkins, Simmons changes the outcome of games like those safeties in a different way.

I’ve written before about Simmons being a cornerstone player. Now he is becoming that face of the franchise type of player. This is going to sound repetitive, but it still bears repeating. He is a prime example of a player/person that puts others ahead of himself.

On the field, there is a clear talent shown in a scheme where he could flourish for a long time. Safeties of his size and measurements are rare. Simmons makes plays that take your breath away. From the field goal against New Orleans (sorry Trevor Siemian, we love you, but Will Parks was in bounds), the interception against former Raider Amari Cooper, a huge third and short stop against Cleveland in 2019, game-clinching interceptions versus Miami and Washington, etc.

The list goes on and on and on. In every single one of the games listed Simmons has helped secure victories.

Paton called Simmons part of the core and empowered him to continue using his platform to transform the world, making it a better place. These words uttered by Paton were a powerful, ringing endorsement for Simmons to be the face of the franchise or at least a face of the franchise.

Paton comes from a team in the Minnesota Vikings where safety has been a valued position when it came to the face of the franchise. This player was Harrison Smith. Smith joined the Vikings in 2012 becoming a four-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro. Already in Simmons’ career, he has been a second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler. Both seem like just the first of many to happen for the former Boston College Eagle.

Between Smith and former Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings have been blessed with two players who valued their time off-field and on. This I’m sure is something Paton hopes to bring here to the Denver Broncos and with Simmons being front and center of creating that culture.

Simmons is a direct reflection of a player Pat Bowlen would love. One who sacrifices himself on Sundays to play for the teammate next to him and transform the people around them. Do you see the trend? People who understand they’re vulnerable and continue to be willing to bring that fire regularly in both areas. Ever since stepping foot into Dove Valley and Empower Field of Mile High, Simmons has embraced that Pat Bowlen way like Champ Bailey, Miller, and a few defensive players before him.

Simmons has become that strong voice and leader the team values in the locker room. He is the face of the franchise this team needs when all the chips are down. The other reflection of Simmons as a face of the franchise or the face of the franchise guy is making plays when the team needed it most.

Once the Broncos made the difficult decision to trade Miller, Simmons set the entire tone for the game against Dallas, stopping Ezekiel Elliot on 4th-and-1 early in the game. Facing adversity head-on is a direct reflection of his character and proving words lead to action. One truism I always hold to is this: words are meaningless if there’s no action behind them. Through Simmons’ actions in his tenure, he’s showing he is bought into this franchise’s willingness to change.

It goes without saying how difficult these past six seasons have been since Peyton Manning left; however, a player who continues to be bought into what the franchise is building and sees the change is Simmons. He’s proving Paton correct in re-signing him to his lengthy and worthy extension.

Not only that, Simmons is proving Paton right being part of the core and one of the players who will help turn the corner for this Denver Broncos organization. In my opinion, Simmons is the best Broncos defender on the team and arguably the team’s best player.

Simmons is quickly turning into a player like Steve Atwater, a player beloved by Broncos Country and team.

Simply put, Justin Simmons is the face of the franchise right now.