Sanders expected to retire today

CLEVELAND -- Deion Sanders is expected to make his second retirement from the NFL official today at the Baltimore Ravens' training complex, and the future Hall of Fame cornerback attempted to go out in style Sunday afternoon. Following the Ravens' 20-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns, Sanders left the visitors' locker room wearing a tan corduroy suit accompanied by a black fedora that featured a red feather.

"I've been winning 'Best dressed' since middle school," Sanders bragged to Bart Scott after giving the linebacker a few tips on how to knot his tie.

Prior to kickoff, Sanders told a Comcast Sportsnet cameraman that he cherished his 14-year love affair with the NFL and that this was definitely the end of the line after 191 career games.

When asked to elaborate afterward about his plans, Sanders was quick to say: "No retirement questions. We'll handle that back in Baltimore."

For Sanders, 38, his final NFL game represented a mixed bag of excitement. He was a game captain and started in place of injured cornerback Chris McAlister, lining up at safety and cornerback.

The flamboyant 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year caught a lateral in the first quarter when he lined up at wide receiver, but didn't gain any yards.

Sanders wanted to high-step into the end zone one more time after a third-quarter interception by safety Ed Reed was lateraled to Samari Rolle and Chad Williams.

However, Williams' low lateral attempt to Sanders skidded across the ground to a Cleveland lineman. Williams was ruled down on contact.

"Chad had the nerve to be mad at me," Sanders quipped. "Tattoo wouldn't have been there on that pitch."

Sanders finished his final season tied for the team lead with two interceptions, boosting his career total to 53 interceptions.

"It was like a dream come true to play with a guy you idolize, a guy you became really close with," said Rolle, a protégé who honored Sanders by wearing his No. 2 jersey number at Florida State. "He was great for us, he was great for the whole building."

Besides Sanders, nickel back Dale Carter, 35, linebacker Peter Boulware, 30, and offensive tackle Orlando Brown, 35, are also expected to strongly consider retirement.

Sanders was coaxed out of a three-year retirement two summers ago by former Ravens defensive back Corey Fuller and linebacker Ray Lewis. He had designs on earning another Super Bowl ring, but didn't even make the playoffs in two seasons in Baltimore.

Sanders alluded to camaraderie along with friendships made and strengthened as his rewards for deciding to play football one more time.

"I think what I really truly came back for has happened," Sanders said. "A lot of intangibles occurred. I established some relationships that I will treasure."


In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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