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Mile High Morning: Super Bowl 50 champion and 'No-Fly Zone' safety T.J. Ward announces retirement


The Lead

After an eight-year NFL career, former Broncos safety T.J. Ward is hanging up his cleats.

The two-time Pro Bowler was an instrumental part of one of the finest secondaries in NFL history as part of the "No-Fly Zone" alongside Darian Stewart, Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby, a group that helped power the Broncos to a championship in Super Bowl 50.

"I am honored and blessed to have completed 8 NFL years!" Ward said in a statement. "Second round draft pick, all-rookie team, all-pro, pro bowler and Super Bowl 50 champion. The journey has been amazing!"

After being drafted by Cleveland in the second round and spending four years with the Browns, Ward arrived in Denver in 2014 as a free agent, joining DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders and Talib to form one of the best free agency classes in recent memory. As a Bronco, Ward burst onto the scene and earned a Pro Bowl selection on the back of a 74-tackle, two-sack, two-interception season. A hard-hitter, Ward was a unique talent that could play almost like a linebacker with his speed and strength.

During the 2015 march to the Super Bowl, Ward continued to provide big hits and big plays. Against Minnesota, he came up with two sacks, including the game-saving strip-sack to clinch victory with 30 seconds left.

In Super Bowl 50, Ward was nothing short of stellar as he picked off a pass, made seven tackles and recovered the fumble in the final minutes that set up the Broncos' game-clinching touchdown.

"Thank you to the Denver Broncos for an amazing three years," Ward said. "It was a pleasure playing for such an amazing organization! Winning the Lombardi Trophy was the highlight of my career. No Fly!"

After Ward and the Broncos parted ways following the 2016 season, he spent 2017 with the Buccaneers and appeared in 12 games. In 2020, Ward returned to the NFL ranks as a practice-squad signing by the Cardinals, but he did not appear in a game.

"We each have our own journey in this life and in this sport, and I proudly followed mine until my football path was complete," Ward said in a statement. "Regardless of the ups and downs, I stayed the course. Football is in my blood. I would play as long as I was able. In the end, I wasn't allowed to play anymore."

Ward is the third member of the "No-Fly Zone" to announce his retirement in the past year, following Talib and Stewart. Harris and Roby are still playing in the NFL as members of the Chargers and Texans, respectively.

Below the Fold

Fellow Super Bowl 50 champion Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall is still working to get back into the league, Jim Trotter reports for Marshall was one of 58 athletes invited to a one-day camp hosted by HUB Football. "I'm like, I still have that fire, that passion, and I feel 100 percent healthy now — and I haven't been 100 percent healthy in a while," Marshall told Trotter. "So I said I'm going to give it a shot. If this is the route I've got to take to get back to the league, then I'm going to take it."

The Unclassifieds

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