Here’s how close Emmanuel Sanders came to never being a Bronco
Sep 7, 2022, 2:31 PM | Updated: 2:41 pm
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Eight years and six months ago, Emmanuel Sanders thought he was going to be a Kansas City Chief. So did Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
It happened during Sanders’ whistle-stop tour in his first go-’round as an unrestricted free agent. As the signing period progressed, his path wound toward to Chiefs headquarters near Arrowhead Stadium. He met with team officials, including Reid.
“So, Andy Reid leaves; he thinks I’m signing with the Chiefs,” Sanders said Wednesday as he announced his retirement after a 12-year playing career.
And then the phone call from the 303 area code arrived.
It was the call Sanders truly craved, even as he courted offers from three other teams during the course of his free-agent search.
“All of a sudden, I get to Kansas City, and I knew I wanted to come here, because of Peyton [Manning] and everything that they had. But I [hadn’t received] a call from John Elway,” Sanders recalled. “So, I’m sitting there, in the Kansas City Chiefs’ facility, and I get that call.”
Then it was a matter of extricating himself from Chiefs HQ.
Emmanuel Sanders, on how he ended up a Bronco after being in Kansas City on a 2014 free-agent visit: “So, Andy Reid leaves; he thinks I'm signing with the Chiefs. All of a sudden, I get the call — in the facility that I can go to Denver. I tell them I'm going to Denver. …” pic.twitter.com/VlviLo7wwM
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 7, 2022
“So I’m there, in their facility, and I remember telling them, ‘I kind of want to just go back to my hotel and figure out the situation,'” Sanders recalled. “I was just trying to get out there so I could go really celebrate, because I’m about to go play with Peyton Freaking Manning. The Sheriff! You know what I mean? So, they wouldn’t let me out of the facility.”
“So, I remember trying to leave, and I remember Andy Reid, I see his car just flying down. He hopped up, like, ‘What is going on?’ I don’t care to go into too many crazy details, but that’s just how close it was, because I was literally sitting in that room, like, ‘I’m about to sign.'”
Indeed, eight years ago, when Sanders held his first press conference after signing with the Broncos, he said, “I guess the Chiefs felt like we had a deal, but we never officially had a deal.
“But the thing is, I was at their facility, so of course, they thought that, ‘Oh, if Emmanuel is here, then he’s going to sign with us,’ but that’s never the case.”
And once the call came in from the Broncos, it wasn’t going to be the case. Even though by that time, Sanders had put the word out among his nearest and dearest that he would be catching passes from then-Chiefs starting QB Alex Smith.
“I remember calling all my family. I told them, ‘I’m about to sign with the Chiefs.’ It didn’t happen. I ended up coming here, which is the best thing ever.”
Sanders got a Super Bowl ring, two Pro Bowls and an eventual contract extension out of it. He found a new home in the Denver area.
And all of it happened because the Broncos called him just in the nick of time eight years ago.