Jason Elam returned to the team that drafted him, then said goodbye for good.
"It was very important to retire as a Bronco," said Elam, who had to stop at times to wipe away tears during a news conference in Englewood, Colo. "You can't spend 15 years with one organization and not feel a special bond."
The Broncos drafted Elam in the third round in 1993. It was something he hadn't expected because he was never contacted by anyone from the organization, never brought in for a workout.
Now, Elam is finished -- but as a Bronco.
"Some people were asking why I was retiring, and when you know, you know," Elam said. "I don't think I could do it now, even if I wanted to. I've got so many little issues going on from kicking since I was 13 years old. I just feel like I'm a mess, physically, mentally and emotionally. You just know when you're done. It's been an awesome, awesome journey for me, and to go out like this, I just very much appreciate it.
"It's not fun anymore when every time you go out there, you swing your leg and it hurts," Elam added. "... To be honest with you, I knew coming into training camp (in 2009) that this was probably the last one, and it surely was. I just wasn't the same guy, and I struggled to keep myself healthy. I had a calf issue, I've got a meniscus issue in my left knee, I've got a right hip problem. ... So it was time."
Elam also shares an NFL record with Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints for the longest field goal (63 yards).
"Jason was everything you want in a player, everything you'd want in a kicker," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said. "He's definitely going into the Ring of Fame. I think he is a Hall of Famer, but kickers getting into the Hall of Fame is nearly impossible. I'll try and use some influence if I can to see that he gets there. I believe he deserves it."
Elam was modest when asked if he believes he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
"Those types of things are so much out of a player's control, really," Elam said. "I know that I gave it everything that I could give. That is obviously something that every player would love to have happen to them. ... I'm very happy with the career that I had. I gave it everything I've got, and I feel good about it."
Elam said he has plenty on his plate in retirement. He'll continue to write novels from his home in Anchorage, Alaska, and be involved with some ministries.
"There's a little bit of everything," Elam said. "So I'm not going to be bored."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.