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Ex-Broncos safety T.J. Ward retires from NFL after eight seasons

Former Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward (43) was a starter in the Broncos' famed No Fly Zone secondary, which helped the franchise beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Former Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward (43) was a starter in the Broncos' famed "No Fly Zone" secondary, which helped the franchise beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

April 21 (UPI) -- T.J. Ward, a hard-hitting safety who was a starter in the Denver Broncos' famed "No Fly Zone" secondary, formally announced his retirement Wednesday.

Ward, who played three of his eight seasons for the Broncos, last appeared in an NFL game during the 2017 season as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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"We each have our own journey in this life, and in this sport, I proudly followed mine until my football path was complete," Ward said. "Regardless of the ups and downs, I stayed the course. Football is in my blood. I would play as long as I was able. In the end, I wasn't allowed to play anymore."

In addition to releasing a video that included highlights from high school through his NFL career, the 34-year-old safety thanked his family and the many teams he played for over his football career.

The Cleveland Browns selected Ward in the second round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Oregon. He spent his first four seasons in Cleveland before signing with the Broncos in March 2014.

Ward, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, joined Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Darian Stewart and Bradley Roby in the Broncos' "No Fly Zone" secondary. The group, during Ward's three years with the team, led the league in pass defense, giving up only 203.6 passing yards per game combined over those three seasons.

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In the Broncos' 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, Ward recorded seven tackles and one pass breakup.

The Broncos, who selected eventual Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons in the 2016 draft, released Ward before the 2017 campaign. He appeared in 12 games for the Buccaneers in 2017 and notched 43 tackles.

Ward finished his career with 607 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, eight interceptions and 45 passes defensed.

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