9 NFL Greats Who Need to Retire this Offseason
This off-season, the NFL has a number of players that are flirting with retirement, and for good reason. NFL greats can only stay great for so long, and despite having strong careers without scandal or trauma, there comes a time when you’re simply too old to play in the NFL. Further, there are also players who HAVE been marred by scandal, and they should probably pack their bags as well.
NFL careers are notoriously short, due to both the level at which players must perform, and susceptibility to injury. An NFL great on the back nine of their career can see the wheels fall off in very short order.
Peyton doesn’t NEED to retire from a physicality standpoint. He’s still a very capable starting QB, and down the line, he’ll be a huge asset as a veteran on the sidelines mentoring any number of young QBs as they find their legs in the NFL. But Peyton should retire. His legacy is too great, and he’s quickly becoming known more for poorly-timed interceptions and public temper tantrums than he is for 4th quarter drives. As time marches on, his play will suffer, the tantrums will become more frequent, and people will wondering what happened to the Peyton they knew. It’s already happening, but it’s only getting worse. Oh, and the injuries are worth noting, too. He’s not 100% and at this point, he has too little to gain for the risk of permanent trauma.
9. Peyton Manning
There are all sorts of reason to retire. Most of the entries on this list should retire because they’re no longer very useful as players. Ray Rice is certainly still a very useful player. He’s just not all that useful of a human being. While he was subjected to a two-game suspension after word came our he struck his wife in an elevator, a video tape surfaced that showed just how gruesome an act it was. At that point, public sentiment swung so far that it’s unfathomable that he’ll ever play in the league again. Of course, he can draw this out for a while, and secretly, teams might want his talent. But it’s again to letting Hitler join your kickball team: He might have a great leg, but he did some terrible things that will never be undone. Ray Rice isn’t Hitler, but he’s really bad. The best thing he can do for himself and everyone else is disappear forever.
8. Ray Rice
Unless he wants to be the first bionic man in the NFL, I’m not sure what Bradford is capable of proving. He got a ton of guaranteed money up front from the Rams, which is a blessing, but he’s rivaling Greg Oden in the “bust due to injury” contest. Two consecutive seasons of torn ACLs is not a comforting thought. It’s hard to tell a 27 year old with only two good seasons under his belt that he’s done, but I don’t see a market for Bradford’s services. The only way he sticks around is if the Rams don’t cut their losses, and he’s getting that money either way.
7. Sam Bradford
Reggie has a borderline Hall of Fame career under his belt, but that’s looking backwards, not forward. He’s 36, and the past two season he’s only managed 102 receptions total. Clouding his judgment might be the fact that he’s a lifelong Colt, and players who have stuck with one team become institutions. Of course, he’s a free agent this year, so all that might change, and the free market might have a way of making that decision for him.
6. Reggie Wayne
Troy Polamalu will probably make the Hall of Fame, and he’s another player on this list who has been loyal to one team his entire career. However, even the Steelers are about ready to give up on Troy. And not without cause. He’s a shadow of his former self, and he’s backed up by a promising guy with the wonderful name of Shamarko Thomas. The Steelers are set on cutting Troy, and there’s a big difference between eking out another season or two in your hometown and getting cut to find a new team to start with at square one. It’s hard when you’re young. It’s REALLY hard when you’re old. He’s got great hair, though.
5. Troy Polamalu
Running backs have a short shelf life. One would think that the platooning phenomenon that began about 10 years ago would increase the length of halfback careers, but it hasn’t seemed to happen. Maurice Jones-Drew is a perfect case. After several strong-to-stellar seasons, he’s now found himself in Oakland, which is cause for retirement, if not suicide. He amassed 43 carries, 0 touchdowns, and 2.2 yards per carry. Time to let it go and hope you’ve saved your paychecks, MJD. Update: Maurice Jones-Drew announced his retirement two hours after I wrote this. I wield mighty power with these lists. Thankfully, I only use them for good, and not evil.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew
Devin Hester was a game-changing kick returner when he was in his prime. Unfortunately, that was close to a decade ago. Now, he’s slower, older, but still doing his thing. Players don’t lose speed then regain it, so it looks like it’s gone for good at 32. He can still run, but not as fast. And when you’re a kick returned in this league with a bullseye on your chest, you’re going to want that speed, otherwise some charging special teams headhunter will knock you into the stone age.
3. Devin Hester
Charles Woodson played all 16 games with the Oakland Raiders last year. Charles Woodson is also incredibly old at the age of 38. He’s playing well…for a 38 year-old. But overall, he’s barely hanging on. He signed a one-year contract, likely his last, but even though he’s getting paid, he’s likely sitting on a pile of money. He could be gardening or restoring old cars, but instead, he’s putting on a Raiders uniform with little hope of a winning season, let alone playoffs. Come home, Charles.
2. Charles Woodson
This has nothing to do with popping Molly at horse races or his (diminished) abilities on the field. This call has to do with Welker having player through a ton of concussions as a small, fast guy. As he gets slower, the odds he takes another one goes higher and higher. He’s had a terrific over-achieving career, but head trauma is no joke, and is likely the most important reason to hang them up. You don’t get another brain. Not until brain transplants are possible.