Two-time Pro Bowl WR Sanders retires at 35

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With a job as a television analyst pending and a desire to move on to the next phase of his life, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, 35, 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 finished 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 up here and tell you … I chased this dream and it’s been one hell of a ride,” Sanders said.

Sanders said he “had a few teams to reach out to” 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 accepted a deal to become a television analyst.

“Football is hard on the body and I lost a close friend [in Thomas],” Sanders said. “… I had a heck of a career. I’ve been to three Super Bowls. To 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 binge that also included linebacker DeMarcus Ware, 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 said how close he was to signing with the Kansas City Chiefs instead of Denver in 2014 — he was at the Chiefs’ complex. when then-Broncos general manager John Elway called — and didn’t play 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 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’m about to play with Peyton.”

The Broncos traded Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers after seven games into the 2019 season, the same year he had characterized the struggles of the post-Manning Broncos as “living in a world of suck.” Sanders then played 2020 with New Orleans. Before the Saints, he had 42 receptions for 626 yards and four touchdowns for the Bills last season.

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