Congratulations to the NFL’s Denver Broncos. They’re just one of four major professional sports franchises to be named finalists for ESPN’s National Humanitarian Team of the Year Award. Truth be told, it means a little more than usual during this time of racial injustice. We’ve all seen unparalleled chaos in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a former Minneapolis police officer on May 25th. Cries for change have resonated on a globally seismic scale. In the last week, protesters have gathered in groves of thousands throughout the United States as well as the world to honor the life of Mr. Floyd, and denounce the utterly ridiculous ignorance and hatred towards the black community as a whole. Yes, there have been violent protests. However, peaceful protests are also reverberating around the globe.
When people take to the streets and organize socially and politically, things change. Across the nation, people have given voice to the pain and damage that police brutality has caused. It is time for America to listen. #InDefenseOfBlackLife #BlackLivesMatter
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) June 3, 2020
The heart of the matter is the fact that “Black Lives Matter.” Period. End of story. As a white male, I can tell you that it’s not hard to value every human being, regardless of their skin color, as equals. President Donald Trump and his staff have already done a dreadfully poor job amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and now they’ve dropped the proverbial pigskin when it means the most for Black America. Should we be surprised? Most certainly not. We have a ‘Pig’ as our president, and even his delusional followers would agree.
My hope and prayer is that our country and the world will begin to heal quickly. That’s probably not going to happen, so I’ll settle for a slow and steady healing. Through the evil, there is always hope. Sports franchises have often acted as a beacon for community engagement. In the case of the AFC West’s Broncos, they’ve helped raise the bar in regards to what it means to serve. They’re doing their part to positively impact Denver’s communities, families, and individuals in need.
Let me take a moment to mention the three other teams vying for this prestigious award. Congrats to the Sacramento Kings (NBA), Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB), and New York City FC (MLS) for their vitally important contributions in their communities. Thank you. As for Denver, late and great former Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlen once said, “Nobody is going to care whether your team is worth a billion dollars or whatever. It’s more about how successful you were as an organization and as a team on the field and in the community.”
Dating back to 1997, the Broncos have held Colorado’s biggest community blood drive. Additionally, their donations and fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association and American Cancer Society have made their mark. Denver is the only professional franchise to fund its own branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The Broncos even support a football program for students of Denver and Aurora Public Schools. Completely funded by the organization, ‘Futures Football’ helps high schools with coaching support as well as football equipment. Correlated to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Broncos committed to funding 100,000 meals to the Food Bank of the Rockies, hosted a drive that allowed fellow citizens to donate meaningful supplies for health-care workers, and have set the bar in contributions of approximately $1 million in an effort to support multiple COVID-19 charities.
Broncos’ players have responded by voluntarily donating their time and resources to the Denver community. Last season alone, 120 different players helped with voluntary community events. Fantastic. In this time of uncertainty and unrest, the Denver Broncos are setting an example of what human kindness is all about. The rest of the country and the world needs to follow in their footsteps. Until next week, be smart, stay safe, and stay healthy.
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