The 27 NFL Skill Position Players Who Ended Their Careers with the Wrong Team

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIIJuly 15, 2011

The 27 NFL Skill Position Players Who Ended Their Careers with the Wrong Team

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    When a superstar spends his entire career with one team, it's an awesome occurrence. You know what I mean.

    Jim Brown with the Cleveland Browns, Barry Sanders with the Detroit Lions and Lawrence Taylor with the New York Giants.

    But when a player turns in a great career but retires playing for another team, it's frustrating, annoying, and just plain awkward. 

    The following slides introduce, in no particular order, 27 players who retired while playing with the wrong team. 

Brett Favre, Quarterback, New York Jets/Minnesota Vikings

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 05:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings leaves the field after defeating the Buffalo Bills at the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 5, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Nick Laha
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Although Brett Favre did begin his career with the Atlanta Falcons, he turned in a Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers.

    He won three consecutive MVP awards and broke the career record in virtually every passing statistic, including completions, attempts, passing yards, touchdowns, consecutive games played, and yes, interceptions.

    But then he became the player who cried retirement at the end of his career, playing a mediocre year with the New York Jets and an extremely successful season with the Minnesota Vikings.

    Couldn't he just have retired with the Green Bay Packers? 

Johnny Unitas, Quarterback, San Diego Chargers

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    Originally cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955, Johnny Unitas played 17 incredible seasons with the Baltimore Colts.

    He earned the NFL's Most Valuable Player award three times and threw for a touchdown in a record 47 straight games. He was basically the inventor of the two-minute drill and led the Colts to an overtime victory in the 1958 NFL championship game.

    Let's just pretend that he never played for the San Diego Chargers in 1974. 

Joe Montana, Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs

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    11 Sep 1994:  Quarterback Joe Montana of the Kansas City Chiefs (left) scrambles to avoid San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young during a game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Chiefs won the game, 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Mi
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Montana is arguably the greatest quarterback to ever live and he proved it during an illustrious NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.

    He led the Niners to four Super Bowl titles, winning the game's MVP award three times. He also earned consecutive MVP awards in 1989 and 1990.

    But he lost a classic quarterback controversy with Steve Young and headed to the Kansas City Chiefs for the final two seasons of his career. He did lead the Chiefs to an AFC championship game berth but it wasn't the ideal lasting memory. 

Donovan McNabb, Quarterback, Washington Redskins

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins looks to throw a pass against the New York Giants on December 5, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Redskins 31-7.  (
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    McNabb was drafted with the second overall pick in the 1999 draft and turned in a great career in Philly, earning six Pro Bowl selections and leading the team to the NFC championship game five times, including a berth in Super Bowl XXXIX.

    But he was traded to the Washington Redskins after the 2009 season and had a dismal season in the nation's capital. Who knows where he'll be next year? It's really a shame. 

Steve McNair, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

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    PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 5:  Steve McNair #9 of the Baltimore Ravens passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 5, 2007 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    McNair played 13 seasons with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, earning a trio of Pro Bowl selections and a tie for the 2003 Most Valuable Player award.

    In the 1999 season, he led the Titans to the Super Bowl, where they overcame a 16-point second half deficit and came within a single yard of tying the game on the final play.

    He played for the Baltimore Ravens in 2006 and 2007 before retiring. 

Randall Cunningham, Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys/Baltimore Ravens

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    Arguably the most athletic quarterback in NFL history, Randall Cunningham was a threat as both as a passer and a runner.

    He earned the Bert Bell Award as the NFL Player of the Year twice with the Philadelphia Eagles (1988, 1990), and once with the Minnesota Vikings (1998).

    It's a shame that he had to spend his final two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens. 

Joe Namath, Quarterback, Los Angeles Rams

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    Namath played 12 seasons with the New York Jets, famously guaranteeing a victory (and then delivering) over the powerful Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

    But he played for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1977 season, starting just four games. 

Emmitt Smith, Running Back, Arizona Cardinals

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    SEATTLE - DECEMBER 26:  Emmitt Smith #22 of the Arizona Cardinals carries the ball during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 26, 2004 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 24-21.  (Photo by Otto Greule J
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Emmitt Smith played 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, winning four league rushing titles and setting a single-season record of 25 touchdowns in 1995. He also earned a league MVP award and helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls in four seasons.

    After breaking Walter Payton's all-time rushing record in the 2002 season, Smith was released by the Dallas Cowboys after the season.

    He joined the Arizona Cardinals where he finished out his career after the 2004 season. 

LaDainian Tomlinson, Running Back, New York Jets

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    During his nine seasons in San Diego, Tomlinson won two NFL rushing titles and won the MVP award in 2006, when he rushed for a league record 31 touchdowns.

    He joined the Jets in 2010 and actually had a productive season. But he doesn't seem to have more than a year or two left. It would have been nice if he had stayed in San Diego to finish out his career. 

Tony Dorsett, Running Back, Denver Broncos

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    During his 12-year NFL career, Dorsett rushed for 12739 yards and played for a Super Bowl champion. He holds the NFL record for longest rushing touchdown (99 yards), which was set in the 1982 season.

    He rushed for 703 yards and five touchdowns in 1988 with the Denver Broncos before retiring and earning a berth in the Hall of Fame. 

Franco Harris, Running Back, Seattle Seahawks

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    Harris caught the Immaculate Reception and was a key member of four Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers teams. He earned Super Bowl MVP honors against the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XL.

    After a successful 12-year stint with the Steelers, he joined the Seattle Seahawks and rushed 68 times for just 170 yards and no touchdowns before retiring. 

Fred Taylor, Running Back, New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Fred Taylor #21 of the New England Patriots carries the ball in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Even though he made just a single Pro Bowl, Taylor had a successful 11-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    He joined the New England Patriots after the 2008 season but has made very little contributions in the past two seasons, rushing 106 times for 424 yards and four touchdowns.

OJ Simpson, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers

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    OJ had one of the top peaks for any running back in history, leading the league in rushing four times in a five-year span.

    He became the first player to top 2000 yards in a season, rushing for 2003 yards in 1973. Two years later, he scored 23 touchdowns.

    He was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a second round draft pick after the 1977 season and scored just four touchdowns in his final two seasons. 

Shaun Alexander, Running Back, Washington Redskins

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    Alexander had an extremely productive eight-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks. In 2005, earned MVP honors when he led the league with 1880 rushing yards and scored 28 total touchdowns, a new league record.

    He joined the Washington Redskins for the 2010 season, where he played in four games and rushed for a pathetic 24 yards on 11 carries. 

Earl Campbell, Running Back, New Orleans Saints

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    Campbell was a stud during his six and a half seasons in Houston. He was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in each of his first three seasons, winning the NFL Most Valuable Player award in 1979.

    The greatest power back in league history was traded to the New Orleans Saints in the middle of the 1984 season and rushed for one touchdown during his 24 games with the Saints.

Jim Taylor, Running Back, New Orleans Saints

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    Taylor turned in a Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers, winning the league's MVP award during the 1962 season. He led the Pack to championships in 1961, 1962, 1965 and 1966.

    But in 1967, he joined the New Orleans Saints and rushed for 390 yards and one touchdown before retiring.

Roger Craig, Running Back, Los Angeles Raiders/Minnesota Vikings

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    Craig played eight years with the San Francisco 49ers, leading them to Super Bowl titles in 1984, 1988, and 1989. He became the first player in league history to top 1000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season (1985).

    The four-time Pro Bowler rushed for just 1225 yards and six touchdowns in the final three seasons of his career, one with the Raiders and two with the Vikings. 

Eddie George, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys

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    CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 7:  Brian Simmons #56 of the Cincinnati Bengals tackles Eddie George #27 of the Dallas Cowboys at Paul Brown Stadium November 7, 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati won 26-3.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The 1996 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Eddie George earned four Pro Bowl selections during his eight seasons with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans.

    He was just the second running back in league history to rush for 10,000 yards without ever missing a start (joining Cleveland's Jim Brown).

    He signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys before the 2004 season, rushing for 432 yards and four touchdowns before retiring.  

Thurman Thomas, Running Back, Miami Dolphins

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    Thurman Thomas was as valuable as Jim Kelly to the four-time AFC champion Buffalo Bills in the 1990s.

    He led the league in yards from scrimmage four straight times and was selected as the Most Valuable Player after the 1991 season.

    But he spent an awkward year with the Miami Dolphins in 2000, retiring after rushing for 136 yards and no touchdowns. 

Marion Motley, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    One of the most underrated players at any position in NFL history, Motley averaged 5.7 yards per carry during his eight seasons as fullback for the Cleveland Browns. 

    But he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 1954 season, where he carried the ball twice. There aren't even any pictures of Motley playing for the Steelers. 

Jerry Rice, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks

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    The NFL's career leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns, Rice earned three Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers.

    He retired with the single-season record for receiving yards (1848 in 1995) and receiving touchdowns (22 in just 12 games in 1987).

    His stint with the Oakland Raiders worked out because he was still productive. But why did he need to join the Seattle Seahawks and later try out with the Denver Broncos?

Isaac Bruce, Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers

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    ST. LOUIS - JANUARY 3:  Isaac Bruce #88 of the San Francisco 49ers watches the action from the sidelines during the game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on January 3, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The 49ers beat the Rams 28-6.  (Photo
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The second leading receiver in NFL history, Bruce was a four-time Pro Bowler with the Rams.

    He helped the Greatest Show On Turf win the Super Bowl after the 1999 season, catching a game-winning 73-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Warner with just under two minutes remaining.

    His final two seasons, both spent with the San Francisco 49ers, fall under the forgettable category. 

Andre Reed, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins

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    With the Buffalo Bills, Andre earned seven straight Pro Bowl selections and led the team to four consecutive Super Bowl (losses). 

    He topped 1000 yards four times and was rarely injured.

    And with the Washington Redskins in 2000, well, he had 103 receiving yards. 

Art Monk, Wide Receiver, New York Jets/Philadelphia Eagles

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    Monk was underrated yet dominant with the Washington Redskins, leading the team to three Super Bowl titles with three different starting quarterbacks.

    His big season was a 106-catch, 1372-yard output in 1984.

    He caught 46 passes with the Jets in 1994 and just six with the Eagles in 1995. 

Torry Holt, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Holt was an explosive receiver, and one of the main components of the Greatest Show On Turf for the St. Louis Rams a decade ago. He led the NFL with 1635 receiving yards in 2000 and 117 catches and 1696 yards in 2003. 

    He had a fairly decent season with the Jaguars in 2009 (722 receiving yards) but it was much more fun watching him catch passes from Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger than David Garrard. 

Harold Carmichael, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys

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    Carmichael is one of the most underrated wide receivers in NFL history. He earned four Pro Bowl selections, including a 67-catch, 1116-yard, nine-touchdown performance in 1973.

    In 1980, he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl.

    He joined the Cowboys in 1984 and caught just a single pass for seven yards.  

Tony Gonzalez, Tight End, Atlanta Falcons

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons fails to pull in this reception against the Cincinnati Bengals at Georgia Dome on October 24, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    With the Kansas City Chiefs, Tony Gonzalez has established himself as arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history. He made ten consecutive Pro Bowl selections and led the entire NFL with 102 receptions in 2004--an unprecedented feat for a tight end. 

    Since joining the Atlanta Falcons, well, he's actually been pretty productive still, even earning a Pro Bowl selection this past season at age 34. But it's not just the same watching him play in the wrong team's red uniform.