Emmanuel Sanders sees championship-caliber leadership in Courtland Sutton

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ENGLEWOOD, Colorado— Emmanuel Sanders knows what it takes to be a champion.

The former Broncos wide receiver, who announced Wednesday that he would retire from the NFL as a Bronco, boasted a stellar 12-year career, which consisted of two Pro Bowls, three Super Bowl appearances and a championship of the Super Bowl.

Sanders came to Denver to play with Peyton Manning and win a championship – and he did just that. The Broncos’ dominating 2015 season en route to a Super Bowl 50 win was made possible by the formidable duo of Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, who each posted more than 1,000 receiving yards that year.

The 2015 team was special and many people see the same potential in the 2022 Broncos. Having won at the highest level, Sanders had advice for this year’s team on how to set up a championship season. .

“It’s going to be ups and downs,” Sanders said at the press conference after his retirement. “You’re going to have to play as a team, you’re going to have to believe in each other – attack and defense, special teams, everyone has to play against each other. It can’t be one-sided. Honestly, it’s one of those situations where, I remember when we got to the playoffs, I was just like, ‘I’m going to give it my all,’ but at the end of the day, if it’s part of our destiny, it’s part of our destiny.”

As important as success on the court is — and the 2015 Broncos had plenty of that, going 12-4 in the regular season — Sanders said it was the team’s close bond off the court that got them there. helped build the necessary trust. and trust in each other. For Sanders, silliness, laughter and friendship were important elements of this championship season.

“This team, we had fun,” Sanders said. “…Our camaraderie on the pitch was the same as off the pitch. [The 2022 Broncos] no need to do that, but that team of 2015, we were crazy, man. Like, truth be told, we were crazy. Do you know how much money we spent on clothes? I think Sports Illustrated named us the hottest team or something. … We’d have a pot of, ‘Okay, you’re the best dressed this week,’ so I’m like, ‘I gotta outdo them, I gotta outdo them next week.’ We had fun, and one of my fondest memories is, I remember we had all the jewelry on and Peyton would come in and say, “I want to try on the jewelry,” so we all took off our jewelry and put it on on Peyton, and Peyton is sitting there with all the jewelry.”

Sanders explained that while all the right pieces are in place, sometimes winning a Super Bowl requires an individual leader to convince the team that they have what it takes to become champions.

“It was just a special group, and to do something special, you have to come together and be special,” Sanders said. “Sometimes it just starts with one or two people saying, ‘We’re going to be special’ and start changing everyone. That’s why we were able to do that.”

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