Donovan McNabb and the Saddest Ends to NFL Careers

Dan Van Wie@@DanVanWieContributor IIISeptember 22, 2011

Donovan McNabb and the Saddest Ends to NFL Careers

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    For most NFL stars who you have followed closely, you prefer to see your favorite players walk out of the game with their head held high, still as a member of the organization that most people associate that player with. John Elway would be one of the best classic examples of the ideal scenario, going out as a member of the Denver Broncos and as a champion.

    But then there are other star players' exits that are far less graceful. They tried to hang on for too long, unable to walk away from the prospect of one more year of a big contract. They bounce around from team to team, year after year, until nobody returns their phone calls anymore, signifying that they are no longer wanted.

    We are focusing this presentation on players that are still in the league or have just recently left in the last year to two. So, if you wonder why Todd Marinovich or Ryan Leaf is not on here, wonder no more.

    This article is looking at those players that refused to take all the hints that it was time to pursue a second career and tarnished their name by hanging on past their normal expiration date. These are the players that refuse to believe their skill set is in rapid decline, like Donovan McNabb for example. 

Randy Moss

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    After a long and storied 13-year career, Randy Moss has apparently reached the end of the road. He is supposedly healthy and has been working out, but the phone has stopped ringing. Nobody is interested right now in bringing him in for a workout. You look around the league at players being placed on I.R., yet he still does not have any teams knocking on his door.

    The 2010 season right now looks like it was his swan song. Playing for the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans all in one year was a pretty strong signal that his time was winding down. For the entire year, Moss only came up 28 catches for 393 yards and five touchdowns. Those are very weak numbers for an entire season, especially recognizing what Moss has typically produced.

    Moss played in 202 games and had 954 receptions. He generated 14,858 yards, which amounts to an average gain of 15.6 yards/catch. He scored 153 touchdowns and also netted 682 first downs on his receptions. Moss is probably a sure-fire Hall of Fame inductee, but nobody knows for sure if he will make on his first ballot, due to his relationship with the media and voters.

Jake Delhomme

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    After playing seven straight years as the Carolina Panthers quarterback, Jake Delhomme had a strange 2010 season. He was paid $20 million in 2010 and was the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns until they decided it was time to go with Colt McCoy.

    Coming in to 2011, Delhomme was viewed widely as a smart veteran QB that would be a great mentor type for the new wave of quarterbacks that were drafted in 2011. The Browns waived Delhomme in July, but then the rest of July, August and September rolled along, and nobody called to ask him to come mentor any of the current rookie crop of quarterbacks.

    So, just like that, it appears that Delhomme can start to focus on how to either spend or invest that gaudy $20 million from 2010. For his career, Delhomme played 12 years in the NFL and appeared in 102 games.

    He completed 59 percent of his passes and threw for just over 20,000 yards. He averaged 7.15 yards per pass and had 125 touchdowns to 101 interceptions over the span of his career. His career QB passer rating was 81.2.

Terrell Owens

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    Is Terrell Owens' career over? It is possible that he might come back to play at some point in the latter stages of the 2011 season, but what about 2012? Owens recently flew to Korea to receive some stem-cell treatments on his knee, in hopes that this type of treatment would speed up his recovery from surgery. It is as good an indication as anything that Owens is not the young stud that he once was, and that his body can't rebound like it used to.

    With each passing week that he is missing out on the season, he is that much closer to receiving no phone calls this year from any team inquiring about his services. Other players will be that much further along with their playbooks, offensive schemes and knowing what route to run and where they are supposed to be on each play. For a team to bring in a guy like Owens, that can be such a major distraction; it is just not worth the time and aggravation.

    Maybe Owens will be healthy enough to make a cameo appearance in 2012. His place in NFL history is fairly secure. He has put up huge numbers and will no doubt be inducted in the Hall of Fame in due time. But after playing for three different teams in three years, it is time for Terrell Owens to start making his own popcorn, as he sits down at home to watch the latest hit movie.

Tully Banta-Cain

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    It seems hard to imagine, but is this already the end of the road for Tully Banta-Cain? He is just 31 years old, so you would think there is still some more football left in his body. But despite having visits in September with the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, the long-time Patriots linebacker is still sitting at home and is unemployed.

    Maybe the Carolina Panthers will lob a call to Banta-Cain, seeing that they have lost two starting linebackers in the span of two weeks for the rest of the year. There are plenty of teams that need help with their pass rush. Banta-Cain has 27 sacks over his eight-year career. He registered a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2009 for New England.

    It should be noted that he underwent abdominal surgery this past July, to repair a tear in his abdominal wall. It is possible that teams want to wait to make sure that he is completely healed, but it seemed that he got the green light from the Raiders doctors in his visit there. Is it possible that the end of his career is right now?

Brett Favre

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    Now that we are into Week 3 of the 2011 season, and nobody has been proclaiming that Brett Favre is set to descend upon some NFL team headquarters this week, it looks like it is safe to finally include Favre in presentations like this one. His career is over, and since we feel it is safe to state that it is over, it is also fitting to say that the end to his career was a rather sad one.

    To go from the NFC Championship Game with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009 to that of a broken-down old quarterback that kept sustaining one injury after another in 2010, Favre did not have a very graceful exit from the NFL last year. His streak of consecutive starts came to an end, when a second-string rookie, Arthur Moats, knocked Favre out of a game and onto the bench the following week.

    Favre has legions of fans, and at some point, he will have his farewell visit or his "official day" at Minnesota and at Green Bay. But for the end of his career, trying to hang on to win one more ring at either the New York Jets or the Minnesota Vikings, he will be remembered for trying to give his best but for coming up with interceptions and losses. A sad way, indeed, to end a storied career.

Fred Taylor

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    After pounding the ball for the Jacksonville Jaguars for 11 years, Fred Taylor was still itching to get a chance to play for a Super Bowl ring. He endured two more years in the league as a member of the New England Patriots, even though he was past his prime.

    The Patriots failed to go very far in the playoffs with Taylor, and he was not asked to stay with the team this year. Taylor signed a one-day special contract with the Jaguars so that he could retire from football as a member of his original team.

    The 2010 season was not especially kind to Taylor, as his carries dropped from 63 in 2009 to just 43 in 2010. During his years with the Jaguars, he was used to seeing 250 - 350 carries. Another sign that the end was fast-approaching, was that his average rush in 2010 was just 3.6 yards, which was a career low.

    There are many players like Taylor that try to hang on for that one shot at a Super Bowl ring, but the sad reality is that very few of them ever see their dream come to fruition.

LaDainian Tomlinson

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    LaDainian Tomlinson was one of the premier running backs in the NFL for a number of years. Tomlinson is like Fred Taylor in many ways. Great featured back, that played for one franchise for many years, and at the end of their career, went to a contender to try to play for a ring. While Taylor is retired, Tomlinson is playing like he is.

    So far in two games, Tomlinson has 11 rushes for 24 yards, which is an average of 2.2 yards per rush. His season long rush went for seven yards, so that means his other 10 rushes went for a total of 17 yards. Ugh.

    Tomlinson's role has been reduced so much that even Mark Sanchez is rushing for more yards than Tomlinson now. And to think that Tomlinson had to take a cut in pay to go through this humiliation. This is just one more sad end to a great NFL career.

Thomas Davis

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    Thomas Davis is to be applauded for having the ability to come back from bad ACL tears and go through a complete rehab to be ready to play. Then, repeat the process and go through every step. Then, repeat the process again, and go through every step one more time for good measure.

    Three years and three ACL tears in consecutive years is sending a pretty loud message. Thomas Davis, you have made your money, walk away while you still can walk, and enjoy the rest of your life.

    As huge an injury risk as he is going forward, anyone would be crazy to sign him again to any type of significant deal. Hopefully, he has people that are more concerned about his long-range future than making a quick buck off him.

    This is another career that should be coming to a sad close.

Aaron Maybin and Vernon Gholston

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    I have been lumping Aaron Maybin and Vernon Gholston together for some time now, because basically the two of them are very easy to lump together. Both were first-round draft picks, who were expected to be impact players on defense. They both played in the AFC East. They both were paid huge contracts, and neither one ever produced anything to speak of to have earned all of that money.

    Both were given another chance after being released by their original clubs during the 2011 preseason, and both players were once again unceremoniously waived after the rest of the league found out what the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills already knew.

    Maybe the two of them should go into business together. Lord knows they already have the working capital to put a company together; the only problem would be to come up with a business idea that actually produces something.

Chad Ochocinco

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    Two games into his New England Patriots career, and we learn that the Patriots only feel safe in putting Chad Ochocinco out there for roughly 17 snaps per game. 17 snaps? For as many plays as Tom Brady typically runs in a game, 17 snaps is hardly anything. It is a sign that he is not that valuable to the Patriots after all.

    During the Week 3 contest in Buffalo, it is conceivable that Ochocinco will see more snaps due to the injury to Aaron Hernandez. What he does with those extra snaps will go a long way towards determining how large or small his role will be this year. This could be the swan song for Ochocinco this year, so if any of you have any ideas for what his next career should be, you can start working on those ideas soon.

Carson Palmer

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    How would it feel to be Carson Palmer, to still have a number of years left in your arm to play in the NFL but realize you will never play again because owner Mike Brown has you boxed into a corner?

    Palmer has plenty of money, that is not the reason he needs to still play. He wants to compete and wants to play for an organization that is not run by a stubborn owner. It is one thing if the Bengals were able to go to the playoffs every other year, or something like that, but that is a long way off.

    Andy Dalton is starting to settle in and play like the Bengals were hoping he would. Palmer is losing whatever leverage he had on this deal in a big way. If this truly is the end of his career, what a sad way to go out.

JaMarcus Russell

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    JaMarcus Russell definitely deserves a spot on this presentation. Described as one of the biggest draft busts in the history of the NFL, Russell was the first overall draft pick in the 2007 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders weren't thrilled that Russell held out of training camp and then finally signed his huge contract for $61 million, of which $32 million was guaranteed.

    Russell's poor work ethic and lack of discipline was reflected by his weight, as he was always out of shape and refused to dedicate himself to the sport. He ballooned up to the 290 - 300-pound range, and finally, the Raiders released him in May of 2010. Since then, no other NFL teams have ever expressed any sincere interest level in him.

    He tried to turn things around with ex-NBA star John Lucas, who now serves as a life coach. Even Lucas gave up on Russell due to lack of work ethic and went so far as to ask Russell to move out of Houston. It is reported last month that Russell has enrolled back at LSU and is trying to get his undergraduate degree. Maybe once he has that in his hand, he can use some of his $32 million of guaranteed money and create a job that he is actually good at.

Kevin Everett

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    Kevin Everett has been making positive strides in his quest to be able to regain more of a normal life, after his scary injury suffered in a game at Buffalo in 2007. Everett lost all feeling from his torso down and has been making slow and steady progress ever since to learn how to walk again.

    Everett's playing career might have ended in 2007, but he remained on the Bills active roster until the 2008 season, so that he would have his three years of active service in, which qualified him for lifetime disability benefits from the NFL.

    Everett is a great symbol for hope and courage for anyone that has ever become paralyzed. Even though he stopped playing four years ago, his story is still recent enough to include for this presentation, as his career ended very sadly and very abruptly.

Peyton Manning

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    For the sake of Peyton Manning, Bill Polian and all of the legions of Indianapolis Colts fans out there, I hope that Peyton Manning is able to resurrect his career again.

    But since I am not a doctor, and I have not seen or heard anyone that can proclaim with 100 percent certainty that Manning will play again, we have to take into consideration that there is a chance he might never play again.

    If for some reason that turns out to be true, then this would have been an extremely sad way for his career to have ended. His mind is sharp, his arm is still strong and his will to compete and win remains unchallenged. But this is a serious injury, and if he has to hang it up now, we have plenty of great years of footage to marvel at everything that he did.

    It is becoming more likely that if the Colts continue to extend their losing streak that he might not play this year at all, with the thought that he can play in 2012 instead. But until he lines up under center and gets hit a few times and is able to get up from those hits, we won't know for sure that his career will be able to continue.

Donovan McNabb

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    The Washington Redskins were convinced that Donovan McNabb was not the answer for their offense. With the way that Rex Grossman has been leading them to a 2-0 start, maybe they were right. McNabb did not win in Washington and now he is not winning in Minnesota.

    He has started that "Terrell Owens syndrome merry-go-round", where you play for one team for a year, go to another team for a year and keep working your way around the league, trying to hang on. This is now his third team in three years, and the way that things are going, the Vikings will probably be more than willing to hand the ball over to Christian Ponder, now that Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are receiving starts as a rookie.

    You know that McNabb will not cater to being a backup, as his ego won't allow for that to fly. So, the Vikings would then try to find a home for him and trade him away for someone of value. Whatever happens, you know that this is not the way that McNabb wanted to see his career coming to a gradual end. The ring has escaped him, and the results are continuing to prove that his best days are behind him.