"Wow. I never thought I would see this day. But it's here now and I feel pretty good about it. I'm happy with my decision – coming here to Denver. I'd like to thank (Broncos Owner) Pat (Bowlen) and also (Head Coach) Mike (Shanahan) for giving me the opportunity and to just come here and be part of something pretty special. To me, it was never about what I accomplished on the football field. It was about the way I played the game. I played the game with a lot of determination, a lot of poise, a lot of pride.
"I think what you saw out there on the football field was an individual who really just loved the game. I was just like a little kid. I enjoyed the hard work and the dedication and the preparation I had to make to try to be one of the best receivers to ever play the game. The first ten years, my wife and I, we never took a vacation. After the season, I went right back into my regimen. I knew that the hard work would pay off for me. I was able to play with some of the best players to ever play the game. You know, Steve Young, Joe Montana, and Roger Craig, all of those guys. Those guys brought me in and put me under their wing and pretty much taught me what the NFL is all about. I think I pretty much have represented the NFL the way it should be represented.
"I'd like to thank my family, my wife, Jackie. Wow, I said I wouldn't do this (cry). My wife has been there for me. She's been very supportive. My kids – they've been very supportive. All of my fans – they've been very supportive. I'd like to basically say thank you. It's been really great. I'd like to say to the Broncos – to the players, it was really nice. I had a chance to come in here and meet some new faces and get to know these guys. They reminded me a lot of the glory days back in San Francisco. The players – the way they approached the game – very professionally. They go about their business. I think they're going to do really well this season, and I wish them the best.
"This is a happy day for me. I think the tears that you see are basically that I have really enjoyed this ride. It's really been great; it's been fantastic. Also, I'd like to thank the media for their support. It took a while for me to get used to the media. When I first came in, there were different situations I wish I had handled differently. I learned how to really deal with the media, and I knew they had a job to do. Basically, the example that I try to set for the younger kids is that you have a working relationship and you need to abide by that. You need to just help each other out.
"I think that's it for me. I'm done and I'm looking forward to the next phase of my life now. There are going to be a lot of other opportunities out there. I'm sure I'm going to approach those the way I have approached football – with a lot of pride, a lot of determination, a lot of poise. That's it. Thank you."
On when he knew that he was going to retire
"It was difficult. I think came in and gave it my best shot. I still wanted to play. It didn't happen. I'm still going to hold my head high and stay positive. I'm still going to watch these guys and support them. I feel like I have a bond with them now. On those given Sundays, I'll be there watching."
On how he will feel when he wakes up tomorrow morning
"I think maybe you should ask my wife that. I think she's terrified to death. You know what? I don't know until I face that situation. I had to do a lot of soul-searching. You look at all of the players that have retired. I remember Steve Young. I remember Joe Montana… Emmitt Smith and all of those guys. I think we all say that we're going to get up here, be very poised. We're not going to lose this. Then, reality hits. It's like, ‘OK this is it.' It's all over. I think tomorrow, it's going to be hard to deal with. I've always had a program, a routine. Now, I'm going into a different phase, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."
On the appreciation of the fans wherever he goes
"It's unbelievable. I think it just shows that they appreciate what I have done for the game of football, the way I have conducted myself. I think it's a situation where I never give myself credit. I always give it to my teammates and I pretty much always thank the fans for giving me the inspiration to go out there on those given Sundays. It's a great feeling."
On the offensively-minded coaches he has worked with
"Bill Walsh. He was just unbelievable. The way he could motivate you. I think I had a game where I had three touchdowns and close to 300 yards. He brought me upstairs and I thought he was going to congratulate me. He brought me upstairs and said, ‘Hey Jerry, I've got to have more from you.' (laughs) Also, Mike Shanahan – his approach to the game. Just putting players into position to make plays and win football games. You've got to be offensive minded for that. And Mike Holmgren – just his thinking process also. He was very intelligent about how to utilize players. I think all three coaches. If you have certain players, you have to utilize them. You have to put them in position to make plays and help that team to win. I think with Mike Holmgren, Bill Walsh, and Mike Shanahan, they did a great job at doing that."
On what element of his game has faded in the past five years
"I might have one or two, but I'm not going to tell you. (laughs) I think I have pushed this body for 20 years. In the offseason, I was never a couch potato. I was always out there working out. I felt I had to prove myself every year. I never got complacent. I just continued to work. A lot of the guys now, I think they might have been three when I started playing. I think those guys are amazed that I can still run and that I can do the things that I'm doing right now. The question is how can you? After playing for so many years and being so productive, you're still playing at a very high level. If anything, I think I'm still pretty good at my route-running. I'm not as explosive as I used to be. I try to make up for that with my knowledge of the game. Eventually, everything is going to catch up with me. I don't feel that I've lost that much in discipline."
On comparing his decision to retire to the one he made when he was contemplating retirement before the start of Broncos training camp before ultimately deciding to play
"Well those were two totally different situations. The first one had to do with my family and the kids – what they're going through right now. My son – he's playing football for the first time this year. He's a freshman. My daughter just told me walking downstairs, ‘Well dad, you know what? You can come to my volleyball games now.' I had my oldest going off to college. I was a little hesitant, but once I got here, I was totally committed. I was hoping that I was here for the long haul. It didn't work out that way and now I can move on and go to another place in my life."
On what influenced his decision to retire
"Just being out there and the playing time. I know you can be productive in other ways. I felt I had a better chance if I was on the football field. Like I said, it didn't work out. I'm just going to hold my head high. I have a lot to smile about. All of the players I have played with and all of the records and the Super Bowls and all that."
On the play of the Broncos' young wide receivers
"Once I signed here, I think the young guys elevated their game and it is well deserved. For me, I always wanted to come in and earn my position. I did not want anything given to me. I came in, competed and gave it my best and it just didn't work out for me. I really think that those guys were playing really well, Darius Watts, Charlie (Adams), Todd (Devoe), they were all doing well. I think that Ashley's (Lelie) game was elevated also. Rod (Smith), just watching him, he seemed to pick it up. I was looking forward to working with those guys and they all did very well and I know they are going to have a great season."
On most memorable moment of his career
"I would probably say Super Bowl XXIII (vs. Cincinnati) on that final drive. I remember the way we moved that ball all the way down the field to win that football game. I remember (Joe) Montana when he was coming into the huddle, he was bent down, and he was pulling grass. Everything went silent, breaking the huddle and just making plays. Then we won the game and all we heard was the crowd cheering and I will never forget that moment."
On what he is most proud of
"I think I am most proud of the fans…the way they cheer for me. For the last couple of years, I was able to walk on the field and hear the people cheering my name. I had blinders on for so many years, so I couldn't hear that and you can really appreciate that. So, I guess I would have to say my fans and the support of my family."
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