Former Broncos star Emmanuel Sanders believes Sean Payton 'will win' in Denver

Confidence, swagger, offensive mind all leave Sanders in Payton's corner
Emmanuel Sanders Foundation.jpg
Posted at 3:43 PM, Apr 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-14 17:43:30-04

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Emmanuel Sanders walks into a room, he exudes confidence. He smiles brightly, talks with ease.

It wasn't always this way. In 2011, he lost his mother, a pain that remains. Reflecting on that memory, Sanders told Denver7 it motivated him to hold his foundation event on Thursday night.

Sanders hosted 39 children between the ages of 6-and-17 who have lost siblings.

"I think it's just important to get the kids out. I know how they feel. I just want to be there for them. And they are also here for me as well," said Sanders, accompanied by his young son.

"I woke up this morning with this event on my mind, my mom on mind. I am just blessed and grateful to share these moments, even though it's because of hard times. What I went through with my mom, the ups and downs, emotionally and mentally. I want to give them guidance in terms of what helped me. I am a believer in God, and even though my mom's not here, I know I can still make her proud."

Sanders, 36, provided a night of bowling, games and food for the kids, aiming to provide a distraction and future resources. Autographed pictures adorned the tables, and Sanders took time to talk to several of the participants one on one.

"I want them to know they are not alone," Sanders said. "That we can all be here together, and make it more of a celebration. But, that's the message tonight: You are not alone."

A wiry 6-foot, 180 pounds, Sanders carved a reputation as player who was as tough as he was fast. He played 12 years, posting his best seasons with the Broncos, including 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014 and six touchdowns in the Super Bowl 50 title campaign. Sanders played the 2020 season in New Orleans for Broncos coach Sean Payton.

Consider him a believer in the new boss.

"What I expect from Sean is to win. And I know he will. That's not saying he will do it right now. But, the one thing I know about Sean being with the Saints is that he is one of best offensive coordinators I have ever had. I like the confidence and swagger he brings to Denver. He’s a Hall of Fame coach and Denver deserves a Hall of Fame coach," Sanders said.

"He's a real one. He's not going to sugar coat anything. He's going to make sure he has real people in the locker room. I am telling you he wants to win and he knows how to win."

For Denver to end its streak of six straight losing seasons and seven years without a playoff berth, quarterback Russell Wilson must bounce back. Wilson posted career lows in touchdowns (16) and completion percentage (60.5) last season. Sanders, who has made Colorado his permanent home in retirement, is confident Wilson can regain his balance after the startling fall in 2022.

"When I look at his last three games, that’s the Russell Wilson I am accustomed to. The way he was scrambling, using his legs and making throws on the run. I was watching one game late in the season and he made a throw to Jerry Jeudy and I was like, "That was special,"" said Sanders, who works for NFL Network and will be part of its upcoming draft coverage. "That's what Broncos Country was expecting when he came. With Sean here, I feel like Wilson is going to pick up where he left off at the end of the year."

It has been a different offseason by any measure. The Broncos have retreated into the darkness. The team is not documenting their lifting and conditioning on social media. And few tweets are coming from players. Sanders thinks this could pay dividends, citing his friend in Boulder as an example.

"I think it can help. No distractions, right? We are Zero Dark Thirty right now," Sanders said. "And when we come out, just like Deion (Sanders) says at CU, "We Coming!""