ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With a job as a television analyst waiting and a desire to move on to the next stage of his life, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders35, formally announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday.
Sanders, who spent most of six of his 12 NFL seasons in Denver, was at the Broncos’ complex with his family to make the announcement. He closed out his career with 13 starts with the Buffalo Bills last season.
A third-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 draft, Sanders finished his career with 704 receptions, 9,245 yards and 51 touchdowns. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection, played in three Super Bowls and was part of the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 winning team.
“I’m proud to stand here and tell you … that I chased this dream and it’s been a hell of a ride,” Sanders said.
Sanders said he “had a few teams reach out” to play this season, but ultimately said his long-term health considerations, as well as the death of longtime friend Demaryius Thomas last December, factored into his decision. Sanders said he wasn’t. ready to make a formal announcement Wednesday about his immediate future but added that he has agreed to a deal to be a television analyst.
“Football is hard on the body, and I lost a close friend [in Thomas],” Sanders said. “… I’ve had a great career. I’ve been to three Super Bowls. For me, what else do I have to prove?”
All three of Sanders’ 1,000-yard seasons came with the Broncos, two with Peyton Manning at quarterback. Sanders was part of the Broncos’ 2014 free agency spree that also included linebacker DeMarcus Ware, a cornerback. Aqib Talib and safety TJ Ward.
At the time, he called Denver “wide receiver heaven” because of Manning’s arrival in 2012. On Wednesday, Sanders shared how close he was to signing with the Kansas City Chiefs instead of Denver in 2014 — he was in the Chiefs’ complex. when then-general manager John Elway called — and not while playing with Manning.
“I wanted to sign for three years [in Kansas City] and they wanted me to sign four,” Sanders said. “… I get the call, in the facility, that I can go to Denver … and I remember telling [the Chiefs] I kind of want to go back to my hotel and figure out the situation… I was just trying to get out there so I could celebrate that I was going to play with Peyton.”
The Broncos traded Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers after seven games into the 2019 season, the same year he characterized the post-Manning Broncos’ struggles as “living in a world of suction.” Sanders then played 2020 with the New Orleans. Saints before he had 42 receptions for 626 yards and four touchdowns for the Bills last season.