He wasn’t in Denver as long as was Champ Bailey, but Chris Kuper was the longest tenured Broncos player after Bailey was released, and now his time in the NFL has officially come to an end.
The former Pro Bowl guard announced his retirement from football on Monday, the day before free agency.
“I’d like to thank Mr. Bowlen, John Elway, Coach Fox and the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play for the Broncos,” Kuper said in a statement. “I’m also appreciative of Mike Shanahan for drafting me and bringing me into this organization back in 2006. So many people have supported me during my career, including all my teammates and coaches, my parents, David and Tina, and especially my wife, Cynthia.
“This felt like the right time for me to leave this game on my terms. I’m going to miss hanging out in the locker room, and the offensive line meeting room, in particular. We shared a lot of laughs. I was fortunate to grow up in the game around a good group of veterans, especially Tom Nalen and Ben Hamilton, and became great friends with so many of the guys.
“I sincerely appreciate all of the support from Broncos fans over the years, and I am excited for new opportunities in the future.”
Kuper started 78 games in his first seven seasons with the Broncos, and was a very underrated right guard. He was drafted by the Mike Shanahan regime in the vaunted 2006 NFL Draft, one that produced Jay Cutler, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Marshall, Elvis Dumervil, and Kuper as well as Domenik Hixon, who is also contributing in the league.
Lately, Kuper had battled injuries but was a leader in the locker room and a captain who didn’t need a ‘C’ on his chest to be recognized for it. He was a model for what the Broncos sought in a player, a true professional, which is why he lasted through all the different regimes.
Had he not retired, the Broncos may have moved on from Kuper regardless, but if his career with the Broncos is coming to a close, it’s good to see he was able to do it on his own terms, though injuries obviously played a role.
A Mile High Salute to Chris Kuper, a great football player and an even better guy! Thanks for what you gave to Broncos Country!