Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday after 12 seasons on the field. Sanders has played for five different teams during his career, but he has had the most success with Denver BroncosWhere he spent nearly six seasons.
He signed a one-day contract with the Broncos so he could retire wearing the same team jersey he was wearing when he won Super Bowl 50.
Sanders, 35, did not cite injuries or age as a reason for his retirement. He simply did everything he set out to do, and now he wants to spend time with his family.
“For me, I feel like this is the time for me,” Sanders said via the Broncos website. “Twelve years. I’m going away healthy. I’ve had a great career. I’ve played in a lot of great games. Three Super Bowls. Pro Bowls. I’ve played with some great organizations. So I feel like the time I had. Twelve is good for me.” Now I can go and run tracks with my son, play basketball with my son, hang out with my kids and enjoy my life.”
Sanders, who retired with 704 catches for 9,245 yards in 172 games, was a third-round pick for SMU in the 2010 NFL Draft, taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sanders played his first Super Bowl that same season, which the Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers. He stayed with Pittsburgh for another three years, putting up numbers that made him a very popular free agent.
He ended up signing with the Broncos, when his career blew up. Sanders put in three straight seasons with over 1,000 yards, capturing a 2014 total of 1,404 yards, earning him the first Pro Bowl pick of his career. 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 career with the Broncos was in 2015, when he won Super Bowl 50 alongside his friend Demaryius Thomas and QB Peyton Manning, Who was playing his last season before retirement.
“Then I remember sitting next to Peyton, and this was his last match,” Sanders said about the final moments of Super Bowl 50. “The clock was running out and we were about to win the Super Bowl and I remember looking at Peyton and telling him, ‘Just hug him, man. This is beautiful. This is beautiful. You are going to the top. And then, as soon as the clock hit zero, to be able to go and grab my family and celebrate, it was just one of the best years of my life. It’s something I look back on and I still can’t believe, to this day. Like, to see this ring — at some point Nothing of my career, all the hard work, all the passion, all I gave for this game, all the blood, sweat and tears, at some point I sat on top of the mountain in this match and arguably was one of the best players to have done it. I am so proud of that.”
Sanders spent the last year of his career with the Buffalo Bills, but he always carried a torch for Denver, which he calls “the vast receiving paradise.”
“I came back and watched the video of my interview, my press conference, when I was with the Broncos,” Sanders said. “And I said that this place in Denver, Colorado, with the Denver Broncos, was the place where I could lift the Lombardy Cup.” [with] My son, this is a spacious reception paradise. And when I got here, the sky opened the gate, and we started throwing the ball all over the field. I had the chance to go to the Pro Bowl. … It was just a wonderful trip. The best years of my career, by far.”