Current and former Denver Broncos players reach out to Colorado shooting victims

Doug Farrar

It's difficult to know what to think, or what to do, in the wake of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., that led to 12 deaths and 58 injuries on Friday morning. Perhaps the best (and only) thing to do right now is to reach out to those in pain and in need. As much as they possibly could, that's what several Denver Broncos players did over the weekend. Seven current and former players visited the surviving injured at the Medical Center of Aurora, and as linebacker Joe Mays said, it was the players who walked out of there with their spirits uplifted.

"What we were trying to do was go in there, show support and try to put a smile on these peoples' faces. But the thing is, they put a smile on our faces," Mays told the Associated Press. "They had such positive attitudes. They knew they were blessed to live and they knew they were going to have another chance to walk about with their families."

Mays, receiver Eric Decker, offensive tackle Ryan Clady, offensive guard Chris Kuper, tight end Jacob Tamme and defensive tackle Ben Garland visited the survivors, retired safety Brian Dawkins went as well, and quarterback Peyton Manning touched base with four survivors by phone.

Kuper's story may have been the most interesting -- one of the survivors he met with, Carey Rottman, used to play college football for Winona State. Kuper's North Dakota team beat Winona State when Rottman was there, and Kuper discovered that the two had actually played against each other.

Tamme was affected enough by the visit to send detailed recaps via his Twitter account:

"Wow. I've got to tell ya, that visit was simply incredible. Had no idea what to expect walking in those doors. But the staff, victims, & families were so impressive. The loss of life is so tragic, but the spirit, resolve, & gratitude in that hospital was just awesome. So many amazing stories of heroism.

"A man shot in the leg telling the story of the 17 year old girl who stopped as others ran by & used her belt as a tourniquet on his leg. Nurses bragging on doctors, & doctors bragging on nurses. One doctor had no time to wait for an OR & began surgery in middle of the ER. Another victim and his friend jumped on the friends wife, and he took a bullet in the arm and leg. Met all 3 of them. Just incredible.

"Still some in critical condition, but amid all the chaos at Aurora Medical that morning, no loss of life … Bottom line, this is still a tragic story due to the awful loss of life. But it was great to see these folks who showed such courage. and, for a couple hrs in that hospital, no one spoke about a madman, but instead they told the stories that give u faith in humanity."

Dawkins added his own thoughts:

"Just left the Aurora Medical Center. Got a chance 2 thank the Wonderful Emergency team. & C a couple of the brave victims & thr loving Families. After leaving there, one thing I will defiantly do is hug my wife & kids when I get home. & squeeze them 'em tighter!!!!"

As should we all with the ones we love. Well done, Broncos.