According to reports on the Denver Post, former Denver Broncos wide receiver, Brandon Stokley has announced his retirement after 15 seasons in the NFL. Stokley spent four years (2007-2009, 2012) in Denver and was a constant for a Broncos’ offense during quite probably the most tumultuous period in team history. Stokley caught passes from Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, and of course, Peyton Manning while wearing the predominantly orange; all in three different offensive schemes. In 59 games in Denver, the Rajin’ Cajun from Louisiana-Lafayette caught 153 passes for 2034 yards (13.3 YPC) and 17 touchdowns.
Of the aforementioned 17 touchdowns with Denver, none of those were more memorable than his first in a Broncos’ uniform; opening day in 2009. With :28 seconds left against the Cincinnati Bengals and the ball on the Denver 13 yard line, Orton attempted a pass down the left sideline intended for Brandon Marshall. The ball was deflected up in the air by a Bengals’ defensive back. It landed in the alert, waiting arms of Stokley who scampered the remaining 57 yards for the game winning score. Perhaps what made that score even more impressive is Brandon’s awareness of the game situation. Knowing that Bengals’ QB, Carson Palmer would still get one more possession, he got to the one yard line then ran parallel to the goal line to kill as much of the game clock as possible before breaking the plain and stopping the clock. This effectively gave Palmer and the Bengals’ offense one play to pull out a counter-miracle. The Broncos won 12-7.
Prior to the miracle in Cincy, Stokley’s game awareness had been on full display in a week 10 game in Cleveland in 2008. Both the Broncos and Browns checked their defenses at the door as Cutler and Cleveland QB, Brady Quinn (yes, this is not a typo) were engaged in a wild west shootout. In the 4th quarter, Cutler hit Marshall on an eleven yard touchdown pass. Selfishly, in complete disregard for league rules, upon scoring, Marshall reached into his pants for some sort of celebratory prop. Before he could break it out, Stokley sprinted over to Marshall and gave him a big bear hug to keep the prop under wraps. This saved a fifteen yard, unsportman-like penalty on the ensuing kickoff that would have dramatically shifted field position. As horrible as Denver’s defense was that night, they could ill-afford to give away even an inch of field position. These are the kinds of intangibles that makes me think that if Stokley wanted to pursue a coaching career, he would probably be a huge success.
Stokely was a 1999 fourth round pick of the Baltimore Ravens. He played four seasons, from 1999-2002 in Baltimore; helping them win the Super Bowl (XXXV) in January of 2001 with a 38 yard TD catch in the first quarter. In 2003, Stokley was signed by the Indianapolis Colts where he played four seasons and won a second Super Bowl (XLI). After the 2009 season, Stokley played a year for the Seattle Seahawks (2010) and was picked up by the New York Giants in 2011, but was released due to injury after only two games.
In March 2012, Stokley was partially instrumental in helping the Broncos land the biggest free agent prize in the history of the NFL (Manning). About a month after signing Manning, the Broncos then inked Brandon to a one year deal; reuniting the two in Denver. It proved to be an integral relationship in helping Peyton adjust to his new situation and ultimately, the Broncos 2012 success.
He returned to Baltimore this past off-season but only played six games. Post-concussion symptoms appear to have been the catalyst for today’s announcement.