Fall 2021 SS Magazine

20 NFL players to watch in 2020: Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons

Through Sept. 13, the first Sunday of the 2020 NFL season,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting one Christ-following player each day for 20 days.

Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons has quietly become one of the best players at his position in the NFL. The fifth-year pro won’t grab many national headlines, and his team hasn’t made the playoffs since he arrived in the league in 2016.

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Still, 2019 was a breakout year for the emerging star. He posted career highs with four interceptions and 15 passes defended (10 more than his previous best). For the second consecutive season, he played every single defensive snap for Denver and recorded more than 90 combined tackles. Simmons was a key cog in a defense that finished 10th in points allowed per game with 19.8.

In 2020, Simmons hopes to build off of his stellar 2019 campaign just as his team hopes to build off of a 4-1 stretch run to end last season with a 7-9 record. With talented second-year quarterback Drew Lock and a number of new offensive weapons, the Broncos are eyeing a potential playoff berth.

But first, the organization knew it had to keep its 26-year-old star safety around. The team placed the franchise tag on Simmons in March. The sides were not able to agree to a long-term deal, and Simmons signed a one-year tender worth $11.441 million last month. Simmons has placed his bet on himself for 2020.

Yet Simmons knows that, whatever happens in 2020, his hope is not in the uncertainty of contract negotiations or on-field performance, but in an unshakable foundation.

Prior to the 2019 season, Simmons said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast, “I’d like for that to mean I’m going to have a great year and it’s going to be a great contract, and that could just not be His plan for my life. I just want to make sure [in seeking guidance and advice] that I’m just settled and comforted in the Lord’s plan for my life and whatever that may look like.”

“One of the things I love about my sport is the platform that comes with it. The bigger the platform, the more people I’m able to touch with the truth of the Gospel and just my relationship with the Lord.” – Justin Simmons

Simmons says he grew up in a Christian household, but he described himself as a “lukewarm Christian” until he met his wife, Taryn, in high school.

The Lord blessed the couple with a daughter, Laney Rae Simmons, in May 2018. Simmons said it changed how he views his relationship with God.

“It’s been unbelievable. I mean, I feel like I need to be more prepared almost like I’m preaching every Sunday,” he said. “Like, I need to be more in tune to the Word. I need to be more in tune in my own prayers so that I can lead first-hand with my wife, with my little daughter. It’s been a huge blessing because it’s forced me to be more in tune with my faith and more in tune with my relationship with God.”

On his Instagram page, Simmons said he is a “Child of the King.” On his Twitter page,  he calls himself “an imperfect and unworthy follower of Jesus, saved by grace.”

Simmons also said that, as his star rises in NFL circles, he wants to use his story as a way to inspire others to put their faith in God.

“My walk with the Lord has been an amazing journey,” he said on the podcast. “One of the things I love about my sport is the platform that comes with it. The bigger the platform, the more people I’m able to touch with the truth of the Gospel and just my relationship with the Lord. That’s the biggest thing I’m thankful for.”

Later, he added, “Christ saved me from myself and I love to share that with different people because you never know where people are with their walk and their faith.”

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