ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Derek Wolfe arrived in Denver in the spring of 2012, he was a kid with something to prove.
"When you come from nothing, it makes you fight," he said at his introductory press conference in 2012. "It puts a chip on your shoulder."
He was fresh out of the University of Cincinnati and looking for a home. For a young man whose upbringing wasn't easy, Denver represented a chance to put down roots. To form relationships with teammates. To form a family.
He leaves Denver eight years later as a man after reportedly signing with the Ravens — and those bonds are as strong as they can be.
In nearly a decade in the Mile High City, Wolfe won more than 60 games and a Super Bowl.
He solidified lifelong bonds with teammates.
He endeared himself to the community.
He got married and had a child.
In professional sports, we rarely have the opportunity to watch a player grow.
Contracts are too short. The competition is too stiff. The injuries are too serious.
But over the eight years since Denver selected him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Broncos fans had the chance to watch Wolfe mature — both in his playing style and his personal life.
On the field, Wolfe embodied his last name.
His signature howl celebration marked big play after big play — and he made plenty during his time in Denver.
In the 2016 AFC Championship game, Wolfe sacked Tom Brady. He helped bring Cam Newton down in Super Bowl 50. In 2019, he recorded a career-best seven sacks before suffering a season-ending injury.
Wolfe totaled 33 career sacks during his career in Denver to go with 299 tackles, 46 tackles for loss and 77 quarterback hits.
One of the fiercest competitors in the locker room, Wolfe fought through a number of injuries to continue to play for the Broncos. Even a spinal cord injury — which required him to be carted off the field in Seattle in 2013 and later led to seizure-like symptoms — could not keep Wolfe from playing the game he loved in front of the city he loved.
Wolfe's career continues in Baltimore, but Denver will always be the place where he gained so much.
"Thank you Denver, it was a good 8 years," Wolfe wrote on Instagram. "You are my home, we will always have Super Bowl 50."
Alongside Von Miller, Wolfe helped strike fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks.
Howl after howl after howl.
Take a look back through Derek Wolfe's time in Denver, from his arrival as a draft pick in 2012 through the 2019 season.