BRONCOS

Justin Simmons: No problem with his number getting re-issued

May 9, 2024, 5:36 PM

The No. 31 worn by Justin Simmons is already back in circulation for the Broncos, not even two months after the Broncos released him.

And for a while Wednesday, there was outrage in Broncos Country about fifth-round cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine being issued the number Justin Simmons wore for the last eight seasons.

A smattering of examples:

Justin Simmons remains unsigned. But after eight seasons that included two Pro Bowl selections, a four-year run as a second-team All-Pro and multiple years as a team captain and community leader, it’s understandable that Broncos fans wouldn’t want to let him go — or to see his jersey re-issued so soon.

But Simmons himself wanted fans to know: It’s all good. Don’t worry about the jersey being re-issued so soon.

Taking numbers out of circulation without officially retiring the jersey number isn’t unusual for the Broncos. No. 88, worn by the late wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, hasn’t been issued in the two full seasons since his December 2021 death.

And the No. 24 donned by Champ Bailey was only issued once since his 2014 retirement — for part of the 2018 season to cornerback Pacman Jones. Otherwise, the number worn by the first-ballot Hall of Fame selection has remained inactive.

Simmons had a terrific eight seasons with the Broncos, although realistically, it didn’t rise to the level of Thomas and Bailey. So, it really isn’t a surprise they’d put No. 31 back into circulation.

But the reaction served as a reminder of how Simmons is arguably the most beloved Bronco of the post-Super Bowl 50 era — and how he’s respected for being a bright light in a slew of grim seasons of Broncos football.

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