Two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders calls it a career after 12 seasons in NFL

ENGLEWOOD, Colorado — With a waiting job as a television analyst and a desire to move on to the next phase in his life, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, 35, officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday.

Sanders, who spent most of his 12 NFL seasons in Denver, was with his family at the Broncos complex to make the announcement. He finished his career with 13 starts with the Buffalo Bills last season.

Sanders, a third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 draft, 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’ve been chasing that dream and it’s been a ride from hell,” Sanders said.

Sanders said he “contacted a few teams” to play this season but ultimately said his long-term health considerations, as well as the death of his longtime friend Demaryius Thomas last December, played into his decision. Sanders said he was not ready to make a formal announcement about his immediate future on Wednesday, but added that he had agreed to a television analyst contract.

“Football is hard on the body and I’ve lost a close friend [in Thomas]’ Sanders said. “…I’ve had a damn good career. I’ve been to three Super Bowls. What do I still have to prove for myself?”

All three of Sanders’ 1,000-yard seasons came with the Broncos, two with Peyton Manning as quarterback. Sanders was part of the 2014 Broncos free agency binge, which also included linebacker DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety TJ Ward.

At the time, he referred to Denver as “wide receiver heaven” because of Manning’s arrival in 2012. when then-Broncos general manager John Elway called — and wasn’t 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 at the facility that I can go to Denver…and I remember saying it [the Chiefs] I kind of want to go back to my hotel and figure out the situation… I was just trying to get out of there so I can celebrate that I’m about to go play with Peyton.

The Broncos traded Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers after seven games into the 2019 season, the same year he described the post-Manning Broncos’ struggles as “living in a sucking world.” Sanders then played with the New Orleans Saints in 2020 before having 42 receptions for 626 yards and four touchdowns for the Bills last season. Two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders calls it a career after 12 seasons in NFL

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