Willie Parker and 15 NFL Players Who Should Retire Before It Gets Ugly

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2010

Willie Parker and 15 NFL Players Who Should Retire Before It Gets Ugly

0 of 15

    How ironic that I am now sitting here writing a retirement list, knowing full well that Brett Favre is indeed due to return for the Minnesota Vikings this season?

    Have you ever known somebody who just couldn't quit?  Whether it be an annoying guy at work that can't seem to tell a funny joke, or an out of touch kid that was terrible at playing basketball, but would never give up no matter what until the ball went through for a swish.

    I'm sure we've all been there, right?

    Well, on a more nationwide scale, unfortunately for all of us, there are a few players in the NFL that portray the very same stereotypes.  Some, more than others are in desperate need of retiring, but for some reason don't know when or how to hang up the boots, and call it a successful inning.

    However, now it's time to shine a light on these players.  Some are big time names, while others are players that we have more or less forgotten about in the past five years.

    So let's get to it.  Here's a look at the top 15 NFL players who should retire before they embarrass. And on a side note, yes, Brett Favre is mentioned.

15. Matt Hasselbeck

1 of 15

    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    As wonderful as Matt Hasselbeck once was for the Seattle Seahawks, he's taken a notable step down from his once graceful reputation, and now finds himself among the quarterbacks who are facing a crucial year in terms of performance.

    I think you'll agree that last season Matt Hasselbeck looked pretty rough around the edges.  His accuracy was way off, and if there was any quarterback you'd bet to throw an interception behind Jay Cutler, Matt Hasselbeck would be your man.

    So why is Hasselbeck still pushing forward with what some may call as a mildly successful career?

    Well, perhaps he does feel that he has some unfinished business in Seattle, given that he did lose the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers five years ago.

    But surely there is a better reason than this?

    Quite frankly, maybe there isn't.  The only logical reason that makes any sense, is that Matt Hasselbeck wants to go out with a bang.  He doesn't want to become a mere footnote in NFL history, and he sure as heck wants to help the Seahawks achieve their full potential.

    Still, let's be realistic for a second here, Matt Hasselbeck may have used up all of his talent and may be more of a liability for the Seahawks, rather than a promising sign.

    Last year Matt Hasselbeck threw for an equal amount of touchdowns and interceptions, 17.  This season, there isn't much to say that he will do any better.

    It's a given that Hasselbeck will return for at least the 2010 season, but if he ultimately fails, that may be the end of the number eight era.

14. Ed Reed

2 of 15

    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    It's extremely tough to place Ed Reed on this list.  Not only has been a fantastic safety to watch over the years, he has become one of the most competitive athletes in the league in the past decade.

    Unfortunately for all Reed fans though, there was always going to come a day when the brilliant defender would hang up the boots and call it quits.

    For the record, Reed is pretty bruised up.  He has successful hip surgery this offseason, and although he looks set for action this season, there's no telling when he will run out of gas and ultimately stall some time this year.

    Therefore, I hate to say it but this may be the last season we see Ed Reed in action.

    If you recall how Tiki Barber retired, you'd remember that he walked away from the game for one very simple reason - the hard hits.  Barber had had enough of the after game soreness, and if Ed Reed is starting to show the signs of aging, he to may be thinking the same.

    It may not be as sad as the day Brett Favre finally retires, but it sure will be a massive loss when Ed Reed takes off his cleats for the final time.  While we're thinking about it though, lets focus on the positive.  He still has this season to go, and who knows, he may look 100 percent for the entire year.

13. Chad Pennington

3 of 15

    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    When Chad Pennington went down injured nearly two years ago, it was an absolute crying shame.  Here was a guy who'd step out of his former New York Jets shadow, and was looking extremely impressive with the Miami Dolphins.

    Looking back now, perhaps Dolphin fans are glad that Pennington went down hurt, after all Chad Henne is definitely a potential star, but doesn't anybody miss ole' No. 10 at least once in a while?

    I know I do.  You see, like Ed Reed, Pennington's days are starting to become numbered.  It is questionable as to whether or not Chad Pennington is happy sitting on the bench, and one day he may begin to question why he is still playing at all.

    Right now, Chad Pennington is 34 years old.  He's slowly growing long in the tooth, and is quickly but surely seeing his last days in the NFL.

    So why not quit with some respect Chad, and leave us all with a memory that is more or less fresh in our minds?

    That decision of course isn't my call, but it would make sense for Chad to leave at the end of this season.  If he doesn't see much of the field this year, he is basically useless as the backup quarterback, and no matter what some may say, his talent is beginning to run a little dry.

12. Albert Haynesworth

4 of 15

    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    I was almost amazed at how physically fit Albert Haynesworth appeared on Madden 11 the other day.  Not only was he jumping off the line quickly, he was rushing the quarterback effectively, and really making an impact on defense.

    If only Haynesworth could play like this in real life.

    The problem that faces Fat Al is simple, he is unfit, he is still apparently unhappy, and he is struggling to fit in with the Washington Redskins' newly oriented defense.

    More importantly, Haynesworth simply isn't performing and the Redskins staff are beginning to grow frustrated with his lack of work ethic and lack of results on and off the field.

    So how do we solve a problem like Albert?  Well maybe we never will.  But if there is a solution, perhaps it will come from the big man himself—in the form of retirement.

    Now for those reading this and saying, "well, Albert Haynesworth is fairly young," you'd be spot on.  However, in fitness years (if there is such a thing), Haynesworth is a long way away from where he should be, and struggled immensely to make the 40-man roster in Washington.

    Retirement probably isn't in Haynesworth's game plan right now, yet he still should consider the option.  If another season comes and does, and Haynesworth has done the very least to perform, he may as well hang it all up, he will become more or less useless to any team.

    Struggling to pass a fitness test is one thing, but when you are unhappy and out of sync on and off the field, it then becomes a recipe for disaster.  Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but we all know what Haynesworth is capable of.

11. Terrell Owens

5 of 15

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Terrell Owens has been all smiles right now.  He has his own iPhone application, similar to Chad Ochocinco's, and his new look on his career seems to have him excited for September to roll around the corner.

    But let's be perfectly honest, will the real Terrell Owens please stand up? 

    Firstly, Terrell Owens can't be happy, it isn't in his nature.  And secondly, Terrell Owens has been inconsistent on the field, so what is there to say that he will perform at a high rate in Cincinnati this year?

    That's right, nothing.

    To me, I view this whole situation the same way I view LeBron James in Miami.  There is too much star power to maintain the balance in Cincinnati, and with Antonio Bryant, Chad Ochocinco, Jermaine Gresham, Jordan Shipley, and now Terrell Owens all in the same boat, something has to give.

    Unfortunately for all T.O fans, that something may be Owens himself.  I don't think it is any hidden secret that Terrell Owens is growing long in the tooth, and is no longer the blockbuster wide receiver he once was in his San Francisco days.

    So when it's all said and done, this may be the last year we see Owens suit up, and given that he only has a one year deal in Cincinnati if he fails to pay dividends for Marvin Lewis, he may tossed to the curb similar to his time in Buffalo.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Terrell Owens dearly, and I think he is great for the game.  But there comes a time for every great player to retire, and Terrell's is certainly just around the corner.

10. Michael Vick

6 of 15

    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Prior to the Eagles' opening preseason game last week, I would have told you that Michael Vick may have a rather surprising season.

    Now that I've seen him in full force, perhaps the very opposite will occur, as Michael Vick looked far from solid last week, as he continued to make mistakes.

    For the most part, Michael Vick is walking a fine line.  He is hot on the heels of Kevin Kolb, but given his setbacks and controversial past, the chances of him really rallying for the starting role aren't all that likely this season.

    More importantly, the fact that Michael Vick doesn't see much of the playing field only further knocks him back a peg.  Like Chad Pennington in Miami, surely Michael Vick is becoming frustrated in Philadelphia, even if he chooses not to show it publicly.

    To top it all off, no one else seems interested in Vick.  Even if he was to stray from The City of Brotherly Love, I personally am not all that confident that he would make it out of the long list of free agents next season.

    Look at it this way, Michael Vick has had a good run.  In comparison to some of the guys on this list, he is regarded as one of the better quarterbacks in the past decade for his speed and accurate passing.

    Therefore, if Vick was to go out, he may as well go down while he's on top, instead of a disappointing way such as a desperate attempt at free agency.

    Michael Vick hasn't embarrassed himself just yet, there is still time though.  It may not come to that, but in Vick's eyes, maybe sitting on the bench is embarrassing enough as it is.

9. Jeremy Shockey

7 of 15

    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Jeremy Shockey has always been a fairly reliable tight end.  Whether it was during his extended time with the New York Giants, or his relatively new career in New Orleans, he has more or less been a quarterbacks best friend when it comes to making a reliable catch.

    2009 saw receive for 569 yards and three touchdowns, pretty solid stats for a guy of his age.

    However, the problem that faces Jeremy Shockey is fitness, and whether or not the Saints really need him moving forward.

    Although Shockey's stats were decent, he isn't exactly the best tight end in the league.  Sure this isn't a reason to retire, but seeing as though Shockey is now in the later years of his career, and has just suffered a seizure, perhaps this will be the last year we see No. 88 in full swing.

    Fortunately for all Shockey supporters, he won't embarrass himself.  Jeremy Shockey has always had a tough as nails attitude, and isn't likely to totally slip off the chart this season, in some kind performance collapse similar to the likes of Matt Hasselbeck.

    No, Jeremy Shockey may still play for another few years, and he is the type of player that should make a suitable decision when he feels ready.  Shockey isn't a greedy player, and never has been, and when he does call it a day and hang his hat up, I'm sure he'll let us all know in due time when he's had enough.

8. Brett Favre

8 of 15

    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    Throw a party and call your friends, Brett Favre is coming back to football.  Or so it would seem.

    Yes, in case you've been asleep all day or just simply haven't bothered to care, Brett Favre has answered the calls of the Minnesota Vikings and has decided to triumphantly return to football for what he states, will be the final season.

    Whether or not you believe Brett Favre is your opinion, but it wouldn't be a retirement list without the old timer.

    Yes, when you think of the word embarrassment Brett Favre's name is probably the first to appear.  Not only did he more or less embarrass himself last season against the New Orleans Saints in overtime of the NFC Championship Game, there is a very likely chance that history will repeat itself this season.

    For those that don't know, Brett Favre is an interception machine and he always has been.  So seeing as though Brett Favre has decided to come back, anything short of the playoffs would be considered as a complete and utter disappointment.

    More importantly, it would be an embarrassment to the Vikings, as they begged Favre to return. 

    Celebrate if you will, but some tests lay ahead for  Brett.  He may prevail, as he normally does, but rest assured, the postseason will be a nervous time for any Vikings fans.  If they make it, that is.

7. Jon Kitna

9 of 15

    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    If there's a guy that has been featured on more retirement lists than Brett Favre, Jon Kitna would be your man.

    Jon Kitna first began his career in 1997 with the Seattle Seahawks.  As time soon passed, criticism began to pile up, and now Kitna finds himself in Dallas, behind starting quarterback Tony Romo.

    So what's the issue with Kitna?

    Aside from his obvious age, his talent is also a question.  Given his extensive list of teams, it is wonder as to why Jon Kitna has been unsuccessful in maintaining a role anywhere, and why he continues to shift around the league.

    For Dallas Cowboys fans, Kitna may be quite a worry.  If Tony Romo somehow goes down with an injury this year, Kitna is the next in line, where he will be on display for the entire world to see and judge his talents.

    As for Jon himself, he seems to be comfortable with a Jeff Garcia type of role.  He is happy moving from team to team, and just tasting life as a player.  Sooner or later his days may run out, but if he is thrown into the limelight, he may embarrass himself quite easily.

    Stay tuned for more on this story, as I'm sure Kitna will pop up somewhere and somehow in the very near future.

6. Marvin Harrison

10 of 15

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    It's almost a tragedy to think of how great Marvin Harrison once was, and what he has been belittled to these days.

    Quite frankly, I can't understand why nobody has signed Marvin Harrison.  He was a fantastic athlete for the Indianapolis Colts, and surely a team like Oakland or Washington who is need of a No. 1 wide receiver, could do with his experience and veteran mentality.

    Still, Marvin Harrison sits and waits on the free agency list.  It's likely Marvin Harrison will never find a home, and we'll all be reduced to memories of his great one handed catches and spectacular touchdowns for many years to come.

    But as for Harrison himself, I'd suggest that he just gives up.  When Antonio Pierce couldn't find a team this offseason, he waved the white flag and called it quits. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with retiring that way.

    Yet still Harrison continues to pursue a contract, and unfortunately he is beginning to look like a fool.

    So for all the Colts fans reading this that still adore Harrison, the time has come to speak out and tell him ourselves to retire.  It's gone, dead and buried.  He was a great receiver, but now he is simply a wash up.

    Yes he may still have some talent left, and yes he is still a decent guy, but in the new age of young rookie talent, there is simply no room for the former receiving genius.  Hang it up Marvin, do what's right.

5. Marc Bulger

11 of 15

    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    New life has sprung into Marc Bulger as he has successfully signed with the Baltimore Ravens this offseason, and looks to be a solid backup for Joe Flacco in the passing game.

    As impressive as this all is though, the Ravens may have been fooled a little when they acquired the former St. Louis Ram.

    In Bulger's days in St. Louis, he went from hero to zero very quickly.  Once a Pro Bowl quarterback, Marc Bulger continued to slip all the way to the bench, where he then found himself a free agent, looking for a new home.

    And what was the cause of Bulger's collapse? 

    Easy, a lack of talent.

    In Bulger's original days in St. Louis, he was the total package.  Sure he was no Kurt Warner, but he had a solid arm and smart head on his shoulders capable of making a suitable pass.  Unfortunately, things then went south, and Bulger started throwing interceptions, and ultimately losing games.

    Therefore, let's just hope that the Ravens know who they've bought.  Bulger was brought in to add some experience to a relatively young offense, but his overall experience could be put into question.

    Realistically we won't see much of Bulger this season unless Joe Flacco is bitten by an untimely injury bug.  If that very scenario does play out though, well let's just say the Ravens may be forced to chew their fingernails a little in nervous anticipation.

    Retirement?  It could be on the horizon after this year, for now though we'll see how Bulger goes, he does seem to be quite cozy in the backup role.

4. Plaxico Burress

12 of 15

    Chris Gardner/Getty Images

    Now I know what you're thinking, "Plaxico Burress isn't even in the NFL at the moment." While this is correct, Burress is set to be released from his original sentencing in the near future, and does hope to make it back into the league he once loved.

    But as much as I love Plaxico, why come back at all?  Why set yourself up for the same scrutiny that Michael Vick has endured year after year, by not only fans, but organizations and the media?

    I know I wouldn't put my hand up for that, and neither should Burresss.

    The easiest way to look at this situation is that Burress does have some talent.  He was one of the better wide receivers the game had to offer three years ago, but since then, the New York Giants have moved on, and God knows so has the league.

    It's a tough, cruel league, and just like the real world, the NFL is unforgiving.  From Plaxico's point of view, he may wish to return, but he must be ready to scratch and claw his way to the top, as if he was an underperforming rookie.

    Arguably, Plaxico Burress may see it differently, but the reality is that many people still question his actions two years ago.

    Retirement may be in not only his best wishes, but also to save him from further embarrassment.

3. Shaun Alexander

13 of 15

    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    It seems like Shaun Alexander has been a free agent for a very, very long time.

    In Alexander's career, he was a great running back.  His time with Seattle was memorable, and although he has no championship to his name, he was formidable running back for the Seahawks to have, especially when they were a playoff team.

    However, we all know how the story unfolded.  Alexander was cut from the Seahawks team, and then went on to become a free agent, which is still where he finds himself at the present time.

    During all of this tribulation, Alexander did have a brief moment with the Washington Redskins.  An official contract was signed, but once Alexander failed to average a sustainable amount of carries, he was then released in 2008.

    Recently Alexander has stated that he is still interested in the NFL, even though no one can figure out why.

    If there is any other athlete that should really just forget about it all and hang the boots up, I haven't found him, as Alexander fits that mold perfectly. 

    He had his moment in the sun, and now he has more or less become a joke.  No team needs him, and yet Shaun Alexander still persists.  Hang it up Shaun, the time has come to do what's right.

2. Brian Westbrook

14 of 15

    Like Marc Bulger, Brian Westbrook was successful in signing with the San Francisco 49ers, even though he left it until rather late.

    Similar to most people, I too am a Brian Westbrook fan.  He was a great rusher in his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, and was perhaps one of the more underrated rushers of his time.

    However, that was when he was good, and now he is more or less and older running back, questionably healthy, who is only good for acting as a backup.

    Now, although Brian Westbrook himself is fine with this whole scenario, some fans do feel that jeopardizes his legacy a little.  It's almost the same as Brett Favre sticking around, only to back up Matthew Stafford in Detroit, or some other wacky situation.

    I won't go out on a limb and suggest that Westbrook should retire, but if he does go down injured, it will be an embarrassment.  Westbrook had a year to forget last season, and even though he does seem happy in San Francisco, things could still go wrong with the 49ers.

    Maybe Westbrook was brought in to push Frank Gore a little, but let's just hope he plays it cool and sees out the rest of his days.  This type of once talented athlete, at least deserves that much.

1. Willie Parker

15 of 15

    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    From a former NFC East running back to newly signed Washington Redskins player, we take a look at Willie Parker, who has arguably caused quite a stir in the past.

    If you'd asked me three seasons ago if Willie Parker would be in the position he is now, I would have laughed at you.  He was the Steelers starting running back and things were looking promising for this young man, who was only just in the thick of his career.

    Unfortunately things didn't work out, and once Parker rushed for a dismal 389 yards and no touchdowns last season, the obvious decision put forward by the Steelers was to release him and place Rashard Mendenhall as the favored starter.

    Now Parker finds himself in Washington, where he looks to make a name for himself again with the Redskins.

    However, if rest assured if Willie Parker fails to live up to expectations this year, I guarantee you that the option of retirement may pop up.

    Last season Willie Parker was struck with turf toe.  Now, while this is no devastating injury, if Willie pulls the same stunt again in his time with Washington under Mike Shanahan, it won't come as a hard decision to release him and place him as a free agent.

    It may not come to that after all, but Willie Parker has embarrassed himself before.  Strap yourself in for this one, I have a feeling Willie Parker will create a storyline or two in the coming 12 months.