Denver Broncos' Offensive Guard Chris Kuper is retiring after eight seasons in the NFL reports Mike Klis of the Denver Post. Kuper is the last member of the Broncos draft class of 2006 that included Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Elvis Dumervil. The team released a statement and Kuper expressed his gratitude.
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. 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.
|Photo by Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia|
The fifth round pick started in 79 games in his career spanning eight seasons. Kuper dislocated his left ankle in the 2011 season finale game against the Kansas City Chiefs. An injury that never fully healed allowing him to return to playing the way he used to. After surgery an infection set in and if things could not have gotten worse - they did. In 2012 during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals Kuper reinjured the left ankle while blocking on a running play. The plate holding the ankle together was shattered. He would subsequently undergo another surgery for the infection and hardware issues.
Despite the devastating injury Kuper maintained a positive attitude and was a role model for his fellow team mates. He was a co-captain for 2010-12. In the team's statement Broncos Head Coach John Fox said:
'Kup' consistently demonstrated the type of leadership you look for in a team captain. He earned the respect of his teammates and coaches for his dedication to the game.
No one can deny Kuper has had a great run with the NFL in spite of injury. The rookie out of North Dakota began his career with the Broncos as a back up to Ben Hamilton and Cooper Carlisle before starting in 2007. After proving himself to be one of the team's best blockers his contract was extended for another five years in a deal worth $25.5 million.
The 31-year old is the only member of the class of 2006 to have stayed in Denver for his entire career. Considering the level of success each of its' members have had in the league Kuper says it would have been financially difficult for the franchise to keep them together. In retrospect Kuper says he wasn't the same player he was before his injury which contributed to his decision to retire. He said Monday at the Inverness Hotel in Englewood:
The season kind of furthered my idea that this would probably be the end for me. I didn't feel good all season. I did my best when I was out there. I just wasn't the same player. And I think that's a big part of my decision, not being the same player.
Given Kuper's outstanding career record spanning eight seasons he and the franchise have no regrets. Except; perhaps, losing a really good player, team leader and friend.