Terrell Davis was rushed into retirement by chronic knee problems.
Davis, 29, ended his spectacular, yet injury-plagued career prior to Denver's 12-7 pre-season loss to San Francisco at Mile High Stadium on Monday.
Davis, who holds or shares 56 franchise records, rushed for 7,607 yards in seven seasons with the Broncos after being drafted out of Georgia.
He is suffering from a degenerative condition in his left knee that doctors could not guarantee would get better.
The Broncos will place Davis on injured reserve on Tuesday.
"It's tough, man, don't get me wrong," Davis told the Denver Post on Sunday.
"It's tough because I know I still have a lot of football in me, but I know that my body is not going to allow me to perform at the level I want to play. Unless some new technology comes along real soon, there's a good chance I'll never see the field again."
To a standing ovation at INVESCO Field at Mile High, Davis waved to the fans and was hugged by his teammates.
Davis was given the news by doctors that his career was likely over and he relayed that information to Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan on Saturday after the team's walk-through practice.
According to Davis' agent, Neil Schwartz, the oft-injured running back said Shanahan talked about putting Davis on injured reserve Sunday, but Davis wanted to wait until Tuesday so he could walk in uniform through the players tunnel for the last time and give Denver fans the opportunity for one final mile-high salute.
"It's tough. I have mixed feelings," Davis said. "Obviously, I feel like I can still play, but I can't.
"The crowd's been great, Denver's been great and I want to say 'Thank you for all the support.'"
Being on injured reserve will enable Davis to collect $350,000 US of the $650,000 US in base salary Denver was scheduled to pay him this year.
He will save the Broncos $1.2 million US against the salary cap this season, but cost them $3.4 million US next year.
Davis missed Denver's pre-season opener against the Chicago Bears last Saturday night because of swelling in his left knee and underwent an MRI exam the following day.
The test showed no breaks or tears in the knee, but did reveal some chronic arthritis in the joint.
Davis had left knee surgery on November 12 of last year after suffering a tear of the lateral meniscus cartilage the day before in a game against the San Diego Chargers.
The oft-injured Davis played in only eight games last season, originally missing six weeks after having his right knee scoped following the season-opener against the New York Giants.
On May 20, Davis underwent successful arthroscopic left knee surgery for the second time in six months and was able to participate in the team's minicamp three weeks later.
Last season, Davis was the Broncos' leading rusher, gaining 701 yards on 167 carries, averaging 4.2 yards per attempt.
In 1997, Davis set franchise records for rushing yards in a season (1,750), rushing touchdowns (15) and most 100-yard performances (10).
He was even better in the playoffs as the Pro Bowl back registered 581 rushing yards and eight TDs in four post-season games.
He capped the campaign by earning Super Bowl XXXII MVP honors.
Only Washington's John Riggins (610 in 1982) gained more yards on the ground in one post-season than Davis.
Davis' claim to greatness was accentuated the following year.
Davis rushed for a career-high 2,008 yards and 21 touchdowns en route to a league MVP award and a second consecutive Super Bowl championship.
Only four men, including Davis, have surpassed the magical 2,000-yard mark in the history of the NFL -- Eric Dickerson (2,105 in 1984), Barry Sanders (2,053 in 1997) and O.J. Simpson (2,003 in 1973).
For his career, the 29-year-old Davis scored 60 touchdowns in 78 games for the Broncos.
However, he was limited to just 17 contests over the past three seasons.
"I had a great deal of respect for all the players and we've bonded," Davis said. "I'm going to miss the fellas, I'm going to miss the fans, I'm going to miss dressing out, I'm going to miss everything about it."
With files from Sports Network