Retirement: Which NFL Players Should Have Stuck Around, and Which Should Go?

Angel Navedo@NamedAngelSenior Writer ISeptember 3, 2008

Calling it quits was a hot topic in the NFL this past offseason. The well-documented Brett Favre drama dominated headlines for most of the summer, as fans were divided in their opinions.

Some believed Favre needed to hang it up, while others were passionate about seeing more Brett-ball in the NFL. We have all witnessed the end result, as Favre prepares to orchestrate an air raid over Dolphin Stadium on Sunday afternoon with the New York Jets.

When the New York Giants lost Osi Umenyiora for the season, the team reached out to Michael Strahan in an effort to convince him to prolong his retirement plan. Unfortunately for the defending champions, Strahan declined the offer and will be enjoying this season from the comfort of his home.

As seasons come and go, fans are forced to bid farewell to their favorite players, who’ve accomplished all they could, or have decided that they couldn’t take it anymore.

This is the one player whose style was so dynamic, so forceful, and so impressive, that fans wish they could re-live the prime of their careers for the rest of eternity.

And while dealing with these emotions, fans have to justify a roster spot for that one veteran that should move on, despite that well-advertised spirit. It’s not really about their drop-off in talent or an inability to play. It’s really about allowing the game to progress and giving a younger guy an opportunity to establish his own career.


Come Back to Me!

There are so many players to choose from. Decades upon decades of the NFL, as we know it today, have given us an absurd amount of players we wish we could see at their most prominent once again.

Ultimately, the choice was with the position that can totally dominate and take over the pace of a game: the running back.

Fans enjoy discussions about who the best running back to ever play the game was. Little do they know that there’s only one right answer.

And that answer presents itself in the form of a Rookie of the Year, a 10-time Pro Bowl selection, a two-time Offensive Player of the Year, and a former NFL Most Valuable Player.

His name is Barry Sanders, and the NFL misses him.

With his agility, acceleration, speed, and a display of class and character no longer recognizable in the NFL, Barry Sanders is the caliber of player that doesn’t come around very often. His ability to dominate and takeover games single-handedly was unprecedented.

It's unbelievable for one man to control the tempo of a game with 11 men focused on trying to stop him.

It can be argued that Curtis Martin was just as classy throughout his Hall-of-Fame-worthy career, but Martin never dominated to the extent Barry Sanders did.

With over 15,000 rushing yards and 109 touchdowns in his career, Sanders ended it unexpectedly prior to the 1999 season. Having lost his competitive spirit, Sanders decided that it was time to part ways with the Detroit Lions and their losing ways.

And understandably so, as the team finally appears to be on the verge of hitting a stride—two decades after drafting Sanders.

One can argue that Sanders did wrong by Detroit with such an abrupt retirement. But the fact that he chose to end his career despite closing in on Walter Payton’s all-time rushing record signifies a man more interested in victory than individual accolades.

He didn’t extend his career with another team to pad his statistics like Emmitt Smith did.

Sanders would effortlessly march for over 1,400 yards per season with no real team around him. To achieve such yardage, consistently, against defenses that are playing to stop the run is a feat in itself.

If fans could have Barry Sanders back for one season, all would be good in the world.


Ready for Life Without You...

Picking a player for this category was difficult. Should it be someone that’s currently signed to an active roster, like Zach Thomas or Rodney Harrison?

Or should it be one of the older guys that are playing the waiting game, hoping a team has a need for them, like Ty Law or John Lynch?

Ultimately, Brett Favre was the only player that truly embodied what this article intends to accomplish.

As a fan of the New York Jets, this decision presented a monstrous conflict of interest for me. I plan to watch every game and cheer his accomplishments with the same tenacity, passion, and fervor as always. But this is because I support the uniform, and not the player.

The arrival of Brett Favre in New York has provided for predictions varying from the most prosperous to the grimmest. An entire city quickly welcomed an aging quarterback whose legacy has transcended football. Jets fans can only hope he builds on that legacy with more success in the regular season.

However, many fans were prepared for life without the NFL’s all-time leading passer. His career achievements are well advertised. There’s no denying his spot amongst the greatest. Fans should never be in the business of deciding when a competitor should retire—but there are many that wish he had.

Despite his age, Favre is a better option than any player on the Jets' roster. However, some would have preferred for the Jets to have found out the hard way. The NFL is about glory and greatness, and the Jets should have sought to establish their own icon rather than lease another's.

His phenomenal stature places him in a position where he’s larger than the team. Any successes the Jets have this year will be credited to his name. And if that success results in records and championships, the organization’s name will be dragged through the depths of Hell by the media, as they claim that the Jets bought their season.


There are plenty of players whose legacies and careers have reached fans from all over. It’s amazing how the simplest of character traits and noble acts of humanity capture the hearts of football fans more than consistent play.

Who would you like to see return to glory? And which players do you wish would recognize that their better days are behind them?


Angel Navedo is the Head Writer at, boasting Jet Fuel Radio, frequently updated news and opinions, and a premier fan community.


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