It has, quite frankly, been a while since the Pittsburgh Steelers have played in a Super Bowl. It’s going on a decade now, having last reached the Super Bowl at the end of the 2010 season, being handed a loss courtesy of the Green Bay Packers. They did also reach and win the championship game in the 2005 and 2008 seasons.
Since then, however, nobody has had more success getting there than—other than LeGarrette Blount—wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Like Blount, a former Steeler, he is set to take part in a Super Bowl with his second different team since parting company.
Sanders reached and won the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in his second season with the team after they signed him as an unrestricted free agent in 2014. By then, money had already been committed to Antonio Brown, and they were moving on with Markus Wheaton, followed by the drafting of Martavis Bryant.
There isn’t a better example of a player blossoming after leaving Pittsburgh, however. In his first season with Payton Manning out west, he caught 101 passes for 1404 yards with nine touchdowns, making the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career, of two.
The year he won the Super Bowl with Manning and the Broncos, he caught 76 passes for 1135 yards and six touchdowns, followed by a very comparable season a year later with another nod to the Pro Bowl. He remained a fixture in Denver until they traded him to the San Francisco 49ers.
Where he has been an asset to the NFC representatives in Super Bowl LIV. In nine games, he has caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also completed two passes for 33 yards on top of that, just for good measure.
Interestingly enough, because of the trade, Sanders ended up playing in 17 games during the regular season this year. In all, he caught 66 passes for 869 yards and five touchdowns. San Francisco’s offense particularly in the postseason has been driven by the running game, however. In the NFC Championship game, Jimmy Garoppolo only attempted eight passes, none to Sanders, but he sure loved blocking.
And he sure would love to earn another Super Bowl ring. Perhaps it would even give him some joy to give the 49ers their sixth Lombardi Trophy to draw them even with the Steelers. There is an anecdote he once shared in which he claims that he was more or less insulted as he was hitting free agency, saying he wasn’t worth it.
Over the course of his career, he has proven many people wrong. Over a decade, he has caught 601 passes for 7893 yards and 42 touchdown passes. 404 for 5361 yards and 28 touchdowns came while he was with the Broncos.