ENGLEWOOD, Colo. Linebacker Von Miller has been selected as the Denver Broncos 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee, it was announced at a team meeting on Thursday. The prestigious award, presented by Nationwide, recognizes a player for his outstanding leadership both on the field and in the community.
The Broncos also presented their “Champions in the Community” awards during Thursday’s meeting. Nose tackle Domata Peko Sr. was presented with the Broncos’ Community Impact Award, while linebacker Joe Jones along with safeties Will Parks and Justin Simmons received the team’s Community Ambassador Awards. Additionally, the team recognized rookies linebacker Bradley Chubb and wide receiver Courtland Sutton as the Community Co-Rookies of the Year.
The 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year national winner will be announced in Atlanta at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Saturday, Feb. 2, the eve of Super Bowl LIII.
“Von’s grown into an incredibly impactful leader in the community during his eight years with the Broncos, and we congratulate him on earning our Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nomination,” Broncos Executive Vice President of Public & Community Relations Patrick Smyth said. “Whether it’s personal causes or team initiatives, we’re proud to have so many players doing such meaningful work in the community.
“We also recognize and appreciate the important role of our community development team in supporting our players and helping them make a difference.”
A six-time Pro Bowler and Associated Press All-Pro, as well as a two-time team captain, Miller has developed into a leader on and off the field during his eight seasons with the Broncos.
Selected by the Broncos with the second overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Miller founded Von’s Vision in 2012 with the goal of providing low-income children with vision care and eye exams while serving as an eye-glasses wearing role model. Since it’s inception, Miller has raised more than $4.5 million dollars for Von’s Vision.
Through Von’s Vision, children from 25 schools and organizations in the Denver metro area have received free eye screenings and eye exams valued at more than $250,000. Based on testing results, more than $500,000 worth of frames and lenses have been donated at no cost to program participants.
With more than 6,300 students already impacted through his signature Von’s Vision Day program, Miller continues to expand his efforts in the community by finding innovative and impactful ways to grow Von’s Vision. At the inaugural ‘Western Round-Up’ in November, Miller raised more than $400,000 and introduced a new community outreach program, Von’s Vision Center.
The newly created Von’s Vision Center brings eye care services directly to students and communities in need. The mobile kiosk is equipped with a selection of fashionable frames, portable refraction and visual acuity testing equipment, necessary supplies and material, and more.
The Von’s Vision Center program was introduced in November through a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, with the first Center opening at the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club (approximately 87 percent of members qualify for free/reduced lunch in their schools). Von’s Vision will also work with area optometric doctors and partners to sign up volunteer services at the selected Center’s site.
In addition to the tremendously impactful work through Von’s Vision, the Super Bowl 50 MVP has volunteered at dozens of team and teammate-hosted events and initiatives. Miller recently led his teammates in a more than $200,000 commitment toward a unique program designed to improve local law enforcement relations.
Partner organizations that Miller has supported across the Denver metro area over the years include Anchor Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Denver Public Schools, Denver Rescue Mission, Food Bank of the Rockies, Global Down Syndrome Foundation and Vitalant.
While the large-scale events and opportunities have been widely recognized, some of Von’s most impactful experiences have come on an individual basis through numerous Make-A-Wish Foundation experiences. Miller is the most requested Bronco for wish experiences, personally fulfilling several wishes each year.
Last season, Miller was presented with the Broncos Community Impact Award, which recognizes a player who has gone above and beyond in the community through personal philanthropic efforts. In 2017 alone, Miller led Von’s Vision to a record $1.1 million fundraising record, allowing the organization to grow its impact and launch additional programs.
Miller has twice been named the NFL Players Association Community MVP (Wk. 17, 2017; Wk. 13, 2018) and was chosen as one of five finalists for the Byron “Whizzer” White Community MVP Award in 2017. The Broncos selected Miller in 2017 as their Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award Nominee.
Voted on by his teammates, Miller was named a team captain for the second consecutive season in 2018.
WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR
The NFL’s national Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner will receive a charitable contribution of $500,000 — $250,000 will be donated to the winner’s charity of choice and $250,000 will be donated in his name to expand Character Playbook across the country.
All other 31 nominees will receive a donation of $50,000 in their name to expand Character Playbook, and an additional donation of up to $50,000 to their charity of choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, Nationwide and United Way Worldwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide’s 4th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote by using #WPMOYChallenge on Twitter with their favorite nominee’s last name somewhere in the post between December 6 and January 13. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.
New this year, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as finalists and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIII. The 2018 winner will be announced during NFL Honors at Fox Theatre in Atlanta, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Saturday, Feb. 2.
Starting in Week 14, all 2018 nominees will wear a Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season, in recognition of their accomplishments on and off the field. All current players who have won the national award will wear a Man of the Year patch on their jerseys in perpetuity.
Previous Broncos nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award include cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (2017), tight end Virgil Green (2016), safety David Bruton Jr. (2015), guard Ben Garland (2014), linebacker Wesley Woodyard (2010-11, ‘13), guard Zane Beadles (2012), cornerback Champ Bailey (2008-09), cornerback Domonique Foxworth (2007), wide receiver Rod Smith (2004, ’06), safety John Lynch (2005), linebacker Ian Gold (2003) and wide receiver Ed McCaffrey (2002).
Quarterback John Elway (1992) is the only Broncos player to win the national award, which was first given in 1970 and renamed after the Chicago Bears’ Pro Football Hall of Fame running back in 1999.
BRONCOS COMMUNITY AWARD WINNERS
Peko Sr., along with his wife Anna, invested nearly $700,000 this offseason to fund what will become the Domata and Anna Medical Hope Building—a permanent health clinic with U.S. certified physicians and nurses in American Samoa. The donation will help expand medical care on the island, which currently has only one hospital and a few clinics to serve the island’s population of 57,000 people.
Jones has volunteered more than 60 hours at 40 different events in the community since end of April, highlighted by 16 visits to patients at Children’s Hospital Colorado. He has participated in nearly every team community event, from PLAY 60 events to first-responder outreach, youth and high school football visits and holiday programming.
Parks is a regular visitor to high school football teams throughout the metro Denver area while volunteering more than 45 hours this season at 27 events. He recently led a holiday shopping spree for children from the Boys & Girls Club and has heightened his community involvement in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Simmons was credited with more than 50 hours of community service at 28 events in 2018, including PLAY 60 events, Boys & Girls Club visits, Taste of the Broncos and Drive For Life 21. In his first year as the team’s Fuel Up to Play 60 ambassador, Simmons distributed thousands of dollars to deserving Fuel Up to Play 60 middle schools through a Shark Tank-style competition called the Healthy Schools Innovation Challenge.
Chubb and Sutton, nearly inseparable at more than 33 different events during their rookie seasons, regularly attended volunteer opportunities with the team and their teammates. Chubb has also hosted a variety of events for the Chubb Foundation, which uses sports as a platform to activate human potential. Sutton, a former Boys & Girls Club member, spearheaded a My Cause My Cleats cleat design contest for kids from the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club and adopted multiple Boys & Girls Club families for the holidays.