WR Emmanuel Sanders announces retirement after 12-year career in NFL

Emmanuel Sanders reached three Super Bowls and won one in his 12 NFL seasons. He’s walking away from the game satisfied with his achievements.

Sanders officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday via Instagram.

“I’ve decided to retire from the National Football League,” Sanders wrote on Instagram. “I had one hell of a ride. Three Super Bowl appearances, multiple Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl champion. I gave the game everything I had and it treated me well which is why I’m happy with my decision.

“To everyone who supported me throughout my career.. thank you! To every organization that I played for.. thank you! To all my teammates and coaches.. thank you! To my family and friends… thank you! I came a long way from the small town of Bellville, Texas. I was just a kid chasing after a dream and I caught it! God is the greatest!”

A post shared by Emmanuel Sanders (@emmanuelsanders)

Sanders entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 and steadily grew as a secondary target, eventually blossoming as a productive receiver opposite Antonio Brown. Sanders set a then-career high in receiving yards in 2013, catching 67 passes for 740 yards and six touchdowns. In that same season, Brown finished with 110 catches for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns, proving Sanders was a No. 1 receiver.

The two created quite a duo in the Steel City, but Sanders desired a better situation for himself, leaving Pittsburgh for Denver in 2014 and admitting to NFL.com years later that “being the No. 2 receiver over there (in Pittsburgh) is not fun at times.” The animosity lingered years later, when the two traded barbs over Twitter regarding Brown’s latest antics.

Sanders found his freedom in Denver, where he joined an incredibly explosive offense quarterbacked by Peyton Manning. He caught a career-best 101 passes for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns in his first season with the Broncos, and a year later, he snagged 76 receptions for 1,135 yards and six touchdowns as part of a Denver team that won Super Bowl 50.

Sanders reached the mountaintop with the Broncos, the team he loved the most. It was no surprise he chose to retire as a member of the Broncos on Wednesday.

“I gave it my all. Every single rep, every single play, I tried to go 100 percent as hard as I can. And that’s why I can hang my hat and say I gave the game everything I had and the game gave it back to me.”@ESanders_10 announces his retirement as a Bronco: pic.twitter.com/q1QTmy673s

He did not finish his career in Denver, though, moving to San Francisco via trade in 2019 and making another run at a Lombardi Trophy. Sanders caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games with the 49ers, helping San Francisco win the NFC title and reach Super Bowl LIV.

Unfortunately for him, Sanders was part of one of the most memorable plays in that game, when Jimmy Garoppolo saw him open downfield — and overthrew him, missing out on an opportunity to seal the victory. Kansas City would overcome the deficit in the game and go on to win Super Bowl LIV.

In total, Sanders reached three Super Bowls — two with the Broncos and one with the 49ers — and he’d finish his career as an experienced, pass-catching mercenary with single-season stops in New Orleans and Buffalo. He’d catch nine more touchdown passes before his career was finished.

Sanders has spent time honing his skills as a broadcaster, journeying to Los Angeles to make appearances on NFL Network as an analyst during the offseason. It’s fair to expect him to enter broadcasting full-time following his retirement, where he will undoubtedly find success, just as the SMU product did in the NFL.

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