Plummer Announces Retirement; Leaves For Handball Tournament

Friday, March 9th 2007, 7:40 pm
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Jake Plummer poured a glass of water, took a giant gulp and then talked for almost five minutes about how he was officially retiring from the NFL before stepping away from the podium without answering any questions.

The Denver Broncos quarterback was in a hurry Friday. He had a handball tournament he needed to attend.

``I wanted to come in and tell you guys on camera and face-to-face that the speculation can stop tonight,'' Plummer said from the Denver Athletic Club. ``You can know by the looking in my face and hearing my words that I am retiring from the NFL. At 32 years old, I'm running away from the game. Not in fear or fright, but health-wise. I'm healthy. I'm happy. I have a lot to look forward to in my life.''

The Broncos traded Plummer to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 3 for a conditional pick in the 2008 draft. The Bucs made the deal despite being aware of Plummer's retirement plans. He said on the Web site of The Jake Plummer Foundation last Saturday that he was retiring.

``Football has been awesome to me in many ways. I leave the game with my health and happiness, and look forward to the future,'' Plummer said on the Web site.

Yet there was still doubt whether he'd follow through with retirement. Maybe it was leverage to get traded to the Houston Texans so he could be reunited with former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak?

Plummer doused the speculation.

``You don't have to chase me around anymore,'' he said. ``There will not be a jersey that has an NFL patch right here (pointing to his chest). If (Broncos third-string quarterback) Preston Parsons gets in somehow, maybe I'll have his jersey on.''

Plummer has three years left on his contract and was due $5.3 million in 2007. He led Denver to the AFC championship game two seasons ago, but lost his starting job after 11 games last season to rookie Jay Cutler. He was 40-18 as Denver's starter, including a 1-3 mark in the playoffs.

``I poured my heart and soul into this game, not just in the NFL, but in college and in high school,'' Plummer said. ``I'm ready to move on with my life and try some new challenges.''

One of those challenges is handball. He and his brother, Eric, were scheduled to play in the Colorado state handball doubles tournament this weekend.

``Life is grand, life is exciting,'' Plummer said. ``I'm excited to move on, and encounter and take on new challenges with my life. ... I'm excited to see my family more, to be spending time with my friends. You guys can probably know that I'll be at a mountain, either at the bottom or the top of a mountain somewhere. Don't worry about Jake, he'll be fine.''

Plummer went out of his way to heap praise on his teammates and how much they meant to him.

``Anything in the NFL I've ever achieved, anything I did that was positive, exciting, got you on your feet, I couldn't have done it without the guys surrounding me, the guys that gave me the love, gave me the energy,'' Plummer said. ``If anything, that's the hardest thing _ I'll miss those guys.''

Plummer gripped the edge of the podium and stared down.

``Just know I'm going to be fine,'' he said. ``I appreciate everyone's support. So, thank you.''

With that he retreated down the hall of the Denver Athletic Club to get ready for his handball match.