Like some strange breed of Shawshank prison, the NFL has the ability to institutionalize its members.
First players are just along for the ride and doing it for the money and fame. Then, slowly but surely, it becomes all they know. They're trapped.
And some players keep trying to cling to their football careers. They don't know how to say when.
There's always a long list of this type of player. The guy who probably should've retired before the season started but is still hanging around, trying to make one more run.
Now, understand that I realize some of the guys on this list will surely prove me wrong, summoning one more season of competent or even quality NFL work. But let's face it, I'll probably be right about most.
(Sorry Ricky Williams haters, he won't be making an appearance. For some strange reason I think the mercurial Williams still has a part to play.)
The first of a few quarterbacks to make this list, Collins is also the first who fits into the category of, "I thought this guy already retired.
You just don't want to see the guy get hit one too many times.
He was at one time a very effective lineman for the Broncos.
And he also had a great resurgence with the Ravens. But at 36, it's probably time to pack it in for the Brooklyn native.
With two Super Bowl rings and a couple of solid contracts under his belt, what's he have to prove at this point?
Finneran is a great example of someone who's carved out an NFL career from not a whole lot. He has size (6'5") and versatility but not anything approaching great numbers.
It's been nearly 10 years since his greatest season ever, when he had 56 receptions. That's a year that didn't exactly set the world on fire. And it's his finest by far.
So yeah, this has been coming for a while.
He had one very good season in 2007 with the Eagles (77 catches for more than 1,100 yards and six touchdowns).
But the complexion of the Eagles has changed so utterly since then.
And catching on in Miami hasn't happened.
Yeah, I realize he's currently the starter in Tennessee.
But that's only as long as the coaching staff decides to wait on heir apparent Jake Locker (who's already getting looks with the first team).
Hasselbeck hasn't had a good year in fours seasons, which is also the last time he was healthy for an entire season.
He could certainly be one of the people on this list who proves me emphatically wrong, returning from surgery to forge yet another solid NFL season.
But I'm kind of just putting him on here, so he'll disappear from the NFL and go do reality TV full time...
I must say, he has transitioned very well into the role of mentor/backup.
But he'll be 41 soon. I'd just feel bad if Mark Sanchez gets hurt, and the 41-year-old man has to go out there and get hit.
I was almost convinced that he was already retired, only to see his name pop up with the Rams (who either have or are conspicuously linked with a few too many on this list).
He was a truly great cornerback once, but that is no longer the case.
A possible Hall of Famer who scared the hell out of me as a Giants fan for the better part of a decade.
Now, though, he's just a mediocre safety with below average speed on a below average Denver defense (which could be better if veterans like him were replaced).
He can still hit and has a lot of heart, but the speed appears to be gone.
A strange career. He came into the league at the not exactly young age of 29 in 2001.
Since then, honestly, it hasn't taken off. He's played for four teams and never started more than three games in a season nor completed 60 percent of his passes.
There was a time when I thought he could be a star in the NFL.
...And that time passed a couple of years ago.
He probably could make it another season. The way he's employed in the Patriot offense is unique and affords him at least a chance to comeback and play a role.
But with the drafting of two running backs and Danny Woodhead's continued presence, I really don't see a big role for Faulk.
Crumpler dropped a sure-fire touchdown in the Patriots' playoff loss to the Jets last season.
And I'm not saying it was his fault that the Pats lost that game or that that is the single reason he should retire.
The Pats lost that game because they collectively didn't play well. And Crumpler should retire because he's old (though I'm told there is life after football). Plain and simple.
Galloway was at one point one of the premiere deep threats in the NFL.
But if speed is the main weapon in your arsenal, then production erodes quickly when you lose a step or two.
That process is currently happening to Mr. Galloway. Hang it up time.
When he was first drafted (mysteriously as a first round pick), Bennett was one of the fastest players in the NFL.
And early in his career, he showed a lot of promise.
But like Galloway, once a player loses speed who relies almost exclusively on speed, it's pretty much over.
A former teammate of Bennett, Culpepper was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for a period of time.
Unfortunately for Daunte, that was a while ago. And there's really no reclaiming that mantle.
He was on the cover of Madden once though!
He was one of the random quarterbacks that at one point was seen as the Redskins future.
Well, at least he isn't alone in being a QB who failed in Washington. There's a few of those guys walking around out there.
I know I know, there are a lot of quarterbacks on this list. But I can't help it! There are just so many QB's who'd I'd like to retire.
Carr is currently the slighty less expensive backup for the Giants, so maybe by that measure, he has some value in the NFL.
Then again, maybe not. Don't get me wrong, really nice guy but not someone I'd like to give the keys of the franchise to.
He was just cut by the Packers, and I hate to kick a guy when he's down.
But I'm pretty sure it's over for the veteran lineman.
He was a great story though, as a seventh-round draft pick who went on to a very successful career.
Sometimes high profile draft picks just need a change of scenery to reach their potential. In Leinart's case, he'll need quite a bit more than that.
If he ever leads a team to the playoffs, I'll volunteer my services as a tackling dummy at next year's training camp.
Stallworth is pretty close to the point in his career where he starts to lose the elite speed.
And like Galloway, he has no plan B.
He needs to be able to run by people, and when he can't do that, I'd advise him that it's done with.
At one point he formed a fearsome duo with Joseph Adai in Indianapolis.
But the Super Bowl days are long gone now.
All that's left is another running back who can't quite do what he used to do.
And finally, we reach the end. The culmination!
Who could be a more perfect final choice than Mr. "Daylight come and you gotta Delhomme"?
As my friend used to say, he's so over the hill that he's starting a new one.
Truer words have not been said about Jake Delhomme. Kudos on a solid career. But now it's over.