C.J. Anderson's pro football journey included two rises from irrelevance to the spotlight, and he'll ride into the sunset of retirement with plenty of fond memories.
Anderson announced his retirement Friday, calling it quits at age 29 after seven professional seasons.
Anderson reached the NFL as an undrafted free agent signed by Denver, where he existed in obscurity until his second season. In 2014, Anderson rushed 179 times for 849 yards, earning his lone Pro Bowl selection as part of a Broncos team that finished 12-4 before being upset by the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round.
Anderson produced a similarly effective season in 2015, rushing for 720 yards and five touchdowns while also helping the Broncos reach Super Bowl 50. He scored Denver's lone touchdown in the game and racked up 100 all-purpose yards as the Broncos returned to football's pinnacle with a 24-10 win over Carolina.
Anderson saved his best rushing total for 2017, in which he broke 1,000 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns in his final season in Denver before moving on to Carolina in the offseason. He played just nine games as a Panther before he was released, and spun the new threads of his tale by coming off the couch to rush for 299 yards and two touchdowns in just two regular-season contests for the Rams.
His legend grew in the postseason, rushing for 123 yards in a Divisional Round win over Dallas before tailing off in the conference title game and Super Bowl.
"I got to play in three [Super Bowls] and almost had a chance to win one two years ago, which is amazing," Anderson said Friday, via DenverBroncos.com. "I think Super Bowl 50, even though I didn't end it like Jerome Bettis did at home, but it was [near] home. I had a lot family and friends there. I had a lot of family and friends come up. To win, to play successfully in the game, to have 100 yards all-purpose, ... to have a bulk of the yards on the offense and being locked in, that was fun. And everything that came after it was even better.
"That's probably the best moment when it came to Super Bowl 50. What people miss is the celebration with your family on the field. You spend so much time, you put so much in with other people, coaches and players -- other fathers, other sons -- when you get that moment with your family with the Lombardi, that was a special moment."
From there, Anderson moved onto Detroit, appearing in two games before his NFL career came to a conclusion.
Anderson retires with 3,497 career rushing yards and 22 touchdowns scored on the ground. He intends to move into coaching football in the next stage of his life.
"I've just been helping out some high school kids, and then I got a phone call from somebody who I trust who's giving me an opportunity," Anderson said. "Hopefully we can make that announcement here in a couple weeks. ... I was on the fence, but I see helping some of these high school kids, giving them fundamentals, giving them technique, really making an impact on them off who I was. I was happy every day and then the decision became that much easier."