ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --One by one, lockers at Dove Valley were emptied Tuesday afternoon.
Players filled bags with their belongings, making their way from a locker room where they spent the past 10 months of their lives, starting with offseason conditioning all the way through a run to Super Bowl XLVIII.
And the team's success in 2013 didn't make cleaning out lockers any easier.
"It's hard any time," guard Zane Beadles said. "We had a great group of guys and a lot of guys that I consider good friends. That is always tough. You never want to end the season the way we did. This group will never be together as it is right now again. So, it's a tough day."
That was a theme throughout the numerous player interviews Tuesday. With a Super Bowl loss still fresh in their minds, perhaps the hardest part of the end of the season is that the current Broncos will likely never all be on the same team again.
"That's the way the NFL works," tight end Jacob Tamme said. "You'll never be in the same locker room with the same guys, and that'll be no different this year. That makes today, it's not the most fun day. It's really one of the least fun days, especially given the way that it ended. But it's part of it and the guys that you built a camaraderie with, you keep in touch with, you develop some friendships in this league that are pretty special and that's one of the best parts of it and one of the hardest parts on days like today."
Cornerback Champ Bailey admitted that after playing 15 seasons in the league, there are inevitably teammates that he may have forgotten. He doesn't believe that will be the case this year.
"You get this far and you're together this long, it does sting a little more because you built up so many more relationships than you have in the past," Bailey said. "There is not a guy in this locker room I won't remember."
The players all agreed that it hurt to finish the season so close to its ultimate goal before ultimately falling short.
Beadles said he doesn't think the sting will ever go away.
Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway echoed that sentiment.
"I'm not over them yet," he smiled when asked about the Super Bowls he lost as a player. "I just add this one to it."
Now, the team will take some time away before reconvening to fight for a World Championship next season.
"You have to get away from it a little bit, just get away from football – just relax your mind, your body, just relax for a little bit," running back Knowshon Moreno said. "I'll probably take a couple weeks off away from the game and then get back to it."
"We fell short," defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson said. "Next year, I think we're going to come back and we're going to be stronger."