Amidst a thicket of Broncos players, team staffers, local media members and children headed for school, Amon Gordon glanced at his surroundings Tuesday morning and smiled.
This was the kickoff event for the construction of the Darrent Williams Teen Center at the Broncos Boys and Girls Club. But for Gordon, it was a homecoming. What he saw around him was his entire path through life — where he’d been, and who he’d become.
The presence of his teammates reflected his present and future as an emerging young defensive tackle, finally establishing his name as an NFL contributor. The teenagers and grammar-school students scurrying about the club, however, reflected his past.
“This is me,” he said.
Gordon, born in Queens, N.Y. and raised in San Diego, is a Boys and Girls Club alumnus.
“I came up in a single-parent family, not the best of situations,” he said. “After school, (I went there) three times a week at various times, when Mom had to work.”
Many of the children at the club have similar backgrounds. For them, the resources provided by the club are a necessity — the gymnasium behind one door; the game room behind another. Over in the far left corner leads to a library adorned with university pennants. Its purpose? To remind its young visitors of where academic diligence can take them — to the halls of academia, a world away from windows covered with bars and streets sprinkled with tears.
Years ago, Gordon was the kid who mixed his sport with his studies. His success in both gave him a scholarship to Stanford University. Even if he hadn’t made it to the NFL, his life was on track for success; he became the first member of his family to go to college and firmly believes he will not be the last.
“The best thing I can do for them is be an example and want more for myself,” he said. “I can show them that you can have it, but you have to work for it.”
“I’m a survivor. A fighter. You can’t be afraid of hard work if you want to succeed. That’s the frame of mind. I wanted to change the atmosphere and environment in my family.”
Spending time at the Broncos Boys and Girls Club isn’t a guarantee of future achievement. But it does point the children there in a proper direction — towards honorable and noble dreams. Some of these were spelled out on Gordon’s t-shirt, which was flooded with more signatures than a high school yearbook.
The messages were simple, including one that read, “Stay big and go harder.” But the student had another message for Gordon as they conversed.
“The young lady told me, ‘Hold on to this shirt. It’s going to be worth something,’” Gordon recalled. “Being around here gives them that source of confidence. It helps.”
And those kids won’t be the only ones around the club. Gordon will be, too. After working the previous three seasons to establish himself in the NFL, he’s now a starter. His career has traction for the first time, if not outright stability. He’s received the gift of a pro football career. In return, he wants to give his passion, his experience and his wisdom to others who want to follow in his footsteps — not to football, but to a college education.
“Now that I’m situated, I’m definitely going to be more active in helping promote a positive atmosphere,” he said.
“This is home for me. I fit right in.”