Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday after 12 seasons on the field. Sanders played for five different teams in his career, but he found most success with the Denver Broncos, where he spent nearly six seasons.
He signed a one-day contract with the Broncos to retire wearing the same team jersey he wore when he won Super Bowl 50.
Sanders, 35, did not cite injury or age as the reason for his retirement. He did everything he set out to do, and now he wants to spend time with his family.
“For me, I think it’s the right time for me,” Sanders said via the Broncos team’s website. “Twelve years. I’m moving away from the healthy game. I’ve had a great career. I’ve played a lot of great games. Three Super Bowls. Pro Bowls. I’ve played for some great organizations. And so I just feel Like it’s my time. Twelve is good for me. Now I can go and run with my son and play basketball with my son, hang out with my kids and enjoy my life “
Sanders, who is retiring with 704 catches for 9,245 yards in 172 games, was selected in the third round from SMU in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sanders played in his first Super Bowl that same season, which the Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers. He stayed with Pittsburgh for another three years, which made him a very popular free agent.
He ended up signing with the Broncos, which is when his career exploded. Sanders spent three straight seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards, earning him the first Pro Bowl selection of his career with a 2014 total of 1,404. He spent nearly six seasons with the Broncos (he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in the middle of the 2019 season), but his favorite run with the Broncos was in 2015, when he won Super Bowl 50 with his friend Demerius Thomas. and QB Peyton Manning, who was playing his final season before retiring.
“And then I just remember sitting next to Peyton, and it was his last game,” Sanders said of the final moments of Super Bowl 50. “The clock was ticking and we were about to win the Super Bowl and I remember watching Peyton and saying to him, ‘Just hug it, man. It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. You’re going to top .’ And then once the clock went to zero, to be able to grab my family and celebrate, it was one of the best years of my life. It’s something I look back on and I still can’t believe Happens, as of today, to see this ring – at one point in my career, all the hard work, all the passion, everything I gave to the sport, all the blood, sweat and tears, at one point I was on top of the mountain. But sat down with this game and was arguably one of the best to do it. I’m very proud of it.”
Sanders spent the final years of his career with the Buffalo Bills, but he always held a torch for Denver, which he calls “wide receiver heaven.”
“I went back and watched the video of my interview, my press conference, when I was with the Broncos,” Sanders said. “And I said this place in Denver, Colorado, with the Denver Broncos, was the place where I could hoist the Lombardi Trophy [with] My son, and this is wide receiver heaven. And when I got here, Akash opened the gate, and we started throwing the ball across the field. I had the opportunity to go to the Pro Bowl. …it was just a great ride. Best year of my career so far.”