TAMPA, Fla. -- No more bone-jarring tackles for John Lynch.
The hard-hitting, nine-time Pro Bowl safety retired Monday, saying it was time to begin a new phase of life after 11 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and four more with the Denver Broncos.
He felt so strongly about the relationships he built with both clubs that he decided against stepping down in the colors of either team.
Nevertheless, returning to Tampa for the announcement spoke volumes.
"I played 11 years here. We won a Super Bowl. But much more important was the journey and the way we did things," Lynch said.
"I'm proud to be a part of this organization, just like the Broncos. I'm proud of the way I played my career. You don't give yourself a pat on the back too much. But at the end of the day, I'm filled with pride and thankfulness."
A third-round draft pick of the Bucs in 1993, Lynch was part of a core of young players -- along with Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, Mike Alstott, Warrick Dunn and Ronde Barber -- who helped transform Tampa Bay from a laughingstock into a championship team.
The 37-year-old made five trips to the Pro Bowl as a Buccaneer and four as a Bronco after Tampa Bay released him following the 2003 season in what generally was viewed as a cost-cutting move, even though Lynch was willing to take less money to stay.
He left Denver on more pleasant terms in July after being bumped from his starting role and signed with New England during training camp. The Patriots cut him two weeks later, and Lynch had been pondering retirement ever since.
"I knew in my heart I was done when I walked out of there," he said during a news conference attended by several former teammates, including Brooks, Dunn, Barber and Alstott, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
"I remember a core group of players, coaches and owners here believing we could change a culture of losing. We were the 'Yucks.' We were the worst franchise in football," Lynch said. "But having a belief and looking each other in the eye and saying we can change this thing, and we're going to change this thing, it made it so sweet when we eventually did."
In addition to thanking the Bucs and Broncos, who sent a representative to Tampa for the occasion, Lynch paid homage to the four coaches -- Sam Wyche, Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan -- he played for in the NFL.
He also mentioned four former Tampa Bay assistants -- Herman Edwards, Mike Tomlin, Rod Marinelli and Lovie Smith -- who are currently head coaches and talked about Bill Belichick granting his wish to play all of New England's preseason finale.
It wound up being his last game.
Now, he's preparing for his broadcasting debut with Fox next week in Jacksonville, where he'll be part of the Jaguars-Minnesota Vikings telecast.
"I'm looking forward to being a rookie all over again," Lynch said.
He said he might be interested in coaching at some point, but was less definitive about speculation that he might go into politics.
"There was a report last week that I was running for governor of Colorado. I don't know where that came from," Lynch said. "I try not to rule things out, but I really have a passion for this game and want to do something that's around that. But we'll see. Like I said, there's a lot of unknowns."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press