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Atwater Retires As A Bronco

Steve Atwater walked away from football Friday the way he wanted to - as a member of the Denver Broncos.

The 11-year veteran safety, who played with the New York Jets last season, signed a contract with the Broncos on Friday. Then, after closing practice with a two-hand touch tackle of running back Terrell Davis, Atwater announced his retirement from football.

"This is the way I wanted to go out," said Atwater, who started all 155 games he played for the Broncos from 1989-98. "I bleed orange and will always bleed orange and blue."

Atwater, 33, called Broncos owner Pat Bowlen in June, told him he planned to retire and had a special request.

"Steve asked that could the Broncos possibly sign him to a contract so he could go out as a Bronco," Bowlen said. "He wanted to go out without any fanfare, but there was no way this organization was going to let one of its greatest players sneak away."

During a 20-minute ceremony, Atwater thanked the Broncos for making him their top draft choice in 1989 and thanked coaches Dan Reeves, Wade Phillips and Mike Shanahan for their help.

Atwater recorded 818 tackles, 483 solo, five sacks, nine fumble recoveries and 24 interceptions.

The most memorable tackle came on a nationally televised Monday night game in 1990. He met Kansas City's Christian Okoye in the hole, sending Okoye backward.

"That's the hit people will remember him for," Shanahan said. "Steve was a pro's pro and we'll always remember him for the kind of person he and the kind of leader he was."

Atwater said his post-football plans include getting a mortgage-brokerage license.

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