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T.J. Ward left his mark in the NFL during his eight-year career, one with two Pro Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl championship with the Denver Broncos. One of the hardest-hitting safeties in the NFL, Ward was one of the leaders on that dominant Denver defense that allowed the fewest yards, passing yards, and yards per rush attempt in the league in 2015 -- carrying the Broncos to a victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. 

Ward had a case for MVP in that game, finishing with a team-leading seven tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. In his career, Ward recorded 607 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 44 passes defensed, and eight interceptions for the Broncos, Cleveland Browns, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Ward has moved on from his NFL days and is embarking on a post-football career involving a new venture called the Ward Corp -- a fashion and culture-focused project to bring awareness to and raise money for the T.J. Ward Foundation. Ward's foundation is committed to enhancing the lives of young people by supporting programs that provide the tools necessary to empower young men and women in underprivileged communities across the country. Fans can learn more about the Ward Corp initiative and products on the official website

In a one-on-one interview with, Ward discusses Super Bowl LV and the Patrick Mahomes-Tom Brady matchup. He also reminisced about Super Bowl 50 and the ever-changing nature of the NFL. 

You had plenty of battles against Tom Brady when you were playing with the Broncos. What is it about Brady that brings out the best in players? 

Ward: "Probably his leadership and passion. You know he's going to be putting his best foot forward and giving 100 percent effort to winning because he is the ultimate competitor we had in this league. Just that energy, that leadership, that drive -- his players feed off of. Some quarterbacks lead in different ways, but you see that passion and that energy from Tom. For your quarterback to display that, it definitely motivates the rest of the team."

I can't mention Brady without mentioning Peyton Manning. What do you think separated them, especially since you were a teammate of Manning? 

Ward: "Outside of the natural ability, they both were two of the greatest leaders we've ever had in this league. Peyton was a straight student of the game. I just felt like he was smarter than everybody else, opponent or not. He just carried something about himself that -- and though his performance and his play -- he was the smartest guy on the field (laughing)."

What do you think Patrick Mahomes needs to do to catch Brady?

Ward: "Keep doing what he's doing (laughing). He doesn't have to do anything. I don't know how long Andy Reid plans on coaching, but he'll probably make those chances a little bit better. If he just keeps working on his craft -- and for the bare minimum he needs to keep Tyreek Hill for the rest of his career -- I think he's on pace. Getting that second Super Bowl, two of them back-to-back, that's not too shabby!" 

How many do you think Mahomes can win?

Ward: "I think he'll win as many as Tom. I think he'll win seven or eight (Super Bowls). I think he can play for a long time. The style of football is more favorable to what they are doing in Kansas City and soon the game will only open up more. It's not going back to three yards and a cloud of dust. It's just not going to go back to that.

"As the game opens up, it's going to be more favorable to his style. You're just going to see more success from him. Defense is not as important as it used to be. That's what I think."

There's quite a few Buccaneers from that 2017 team you played with that are playing in this Super Bowl. Which of those players are you the happiest to see play in that big game? 

Ward: "All the guys that have been in Tampa for a while, who experienced the lowest of the lows with that organization. William Gholston, Lavonte David, and all the guys that have been there since the beginning. This is their first experience of success and I'm really happy for those guys. They are great players and great men, so them being able to experience this and have a chance of winning the Super Bowl is amazing." 

For years I've heard Lavonte David is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. Can you elaborate on that as a former teammate? 

Ward: "He was one of the reasons I went to Tampa, just because of his ability and the player he is. I've known him before I got to Tampa, but just playing with him and being around him -- he's an amazing player. He gets to the ball, he's smart, he knows what's going on, and he plays hard. That's all you can ask from a player -- especially a teammate -- is to give it your all, be prepared, and perform on Sundays. He did that every week." 

It's been five years since Super Bowl 50 -- hard to believe! That game had plenty of hype, just like this one. You guys heard a lot about Cam Newton and the Panthers all week. What was all that like heading into that game? 

Ward: "We took that as a complete challenge. They had the reigning MVP in Cam and some great backs. Jonathan Stewart was balling at the time. That was a challenge of playing a style of offense we haven't faced all season. Teams really came out and tried to throw the ball on us. A lot of their offense was set off the run and play-action, so we had to stop that first and foremost -- and once we stopped that, we were going to make them pass.

"We knew that wasn't their strength. We knew we had to win the game on defense once we executed the game plan. It happened exactly how we planned it." 

Von Miller's play on Newton isn't talked about enough in Super Bowl history. 

Ward: Which one?!

Yeah, he had two in that game (laughing). I guess we'll start with the touchdown. Just describe what you saw from your vantage point (Ward had a fumble recovery on a Miller forced fumble in the fourth quarter of a 16-10 game). 

Ward: "That (the first fumble) set the tempo of the game. We scored first on defense. It just put us on top for the rest of the game and they never were able to recover from that. The second one pretty much just sealed it. I was covering the tight end down the field and I saw the sack and I was like. 'Oh I'm going to go celebrate' with Von (Miller) and the defensive line -- where the play was made at. I saw a little football squirt out the pile and I said 'Is this for me?!'"

"So I scooped the ball and I really couldn't keep my feet. The field was really slick and I tried to make a move to avoid the ref. That could have been another sack and forced fumble with another touchdown. That was just two amazing plays which led us to victory."

You guys were the last great defense in the NFL. It's really changed over the years. 

Ward: "I'm going to have to agree with you. I don't even see anybody that's coming close to that style of defense or the LOB (Legion of Boom) before us. Chicago had a good defense after us, but they didn't do anything. You have to win a championship. If you're not doing that, you're not considered a great defense. I don't see with the evolution of ball that happening again." 

Are you officially retired from pro football or are you still leaving that door open?

Ward: "No that door is closed (laughing). I haven't officially retired, but I'm done."

What are your plans going forward with the T.J. Ward brand?

Ward: "Actually, the T.J. Ward brand we just launched last night. We launched that this week and you can go visit that at It's basically just my brand, rebranding myself, my professional self away from football a little bit into my authoring, coaching, managing -- the other aspect of T.J. Ward."

What do you hope to accomplish with your foundation?

Ward: "I actually changed it to the Ward Boy Foundation. I got the family involved in it more. My brother (Terron) was in the league at the time and he wanted to make his mark.

"Basically it's about giving back to the kids, giving back to the youth. Whether it's here in the Bay Area -- where I'm at right now -- or in Denver, the two communities that I'm a part of. It's all about developing these kids. There are very few programs that were around when I was growing up, avenues that kids could grow to express and develop themselves. They are just not there like they used to be, so I want to help. I just want to get outside with the kids whether it's through my camps, my golf tournaments, all those things. I just want to help the community."