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Walking away

Schlereth retires after 12 seasons, 29 operations

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Posted: Wednesday April 18, 2001 6:36 PM
Updated: Thursday April 19, 2001 4:42 PM

  Mark Schlereth The Broncos' Mark Schlereth retires after 12 seasons in the NFL and 29 operations. AP

DENVER (AP) -- John Elway and Steve Atwater wept when they retired from the Denver Broncos, but 12-year NFL veteran Mark Schlereth bowed out Wednesday with a speech full of zingers and one-liners.

"The reason I came out here today was to announce that I have just signed a six-year, $42 million contract to extend my career with the Denver Broncos," Schlereth quipped, a reference to Denver quarterback Brian Griese's new contract.

"The truth of the matter is, after going through the 15th operation on my left knee last November, it became painfully obvious that I couldn't sign a six-day contract for $42 worth of Tupperware," he said.

Schlereth's time on the operating table -- 29 surgeries, including a combined 20 on both knees -- sometimes overshadowed his time on the field. He is one of only 15 players to win Super Bowls in each NFL conference and one of 35 to win the title with two different teams.

He was an All-Pro in 1997 and was chosen for the Pro Bowl twice.

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"I started to realize in the last three months of free agency that there is not a lot of market for a 6-foot-3-inch, 245-pound guard that is 35 years old and is beat to a pulp," Schlereth said.

"I think free agency to me can be best summed up by a line in a Randy Travis song: 'Since my phone still ain't ringing, I will assume it still ain't you.'"

Schlereth praised Denver head coach Mike Shanahan, quarterback Elway and other coaches and players he encountered in his career.

Elway retired after the Broncos won their second consecutive Super Bowl in 1999. Atwater, a safety who played 10 years for the Broncos and one for the New York Jets, retired in August 2000.

Schlereth plans to become a broadcaster.

Related information
Roundup: Broncos' Schlereth set to retire
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