Brandon Roy and 10 Athletes Who Retired Too Young

Jeff Chase@@Real_Jeff_ChaseSenior Analyst IIDecember 9, 2011

Brandon Roy and 10 Athletes Who Retired Too Young

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    With the pending retirement of the Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Brandon Roy likely coming today, the NBA is losing one of its great young stars. There is no doubt that Roy's sudden retirement is a shock to all, as the 27-year-old was essentially just entering his prime.

    Unfortunately, that is what injuries do. Their lingering effects are inevitable, so no matter what your age, they tend to have the same results. It isn't always injuries. Sometimes it is the pressure or the stress that comes with being a professional athlete.

    Roy isn't the first player to retire too young. The following athletes also left the game during their prime.

Michael Jordan Retirement No. 1

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    When Michael Jordan left the Chicago Bulls and the NBA in 1993, many were left scratching their heads. Where was Jordan going?

    Baseball.

    While basketball was his thing, Jordan felt he should try and play the sport his father loved following his death. Jordan actually wasn't bad, but it was going to be quite a long ride to make the pros.

    Jordan was only 30 years old, and he was coming off three consecutive NBA championships. He was also the MVP of the 1991 and 1992 seasons.

    Jordan was by far one of the greatest players in basketball at that time, and many thought that he was just getting started. Well, they weren't wrong. As soon as Jordan returned from retirement, he won another three straight NBA titles starting with his first full season back.

Jim Brown

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    Running back Jim Brown decided to retire from the Cleveland Browns after nine seasons. When he did so, he was only 29 years old.

    When Brown retired, he had already ran for 12,312 yards and 106 touchdowns. He also accumulated 2,499 yards in the passing game with 20 receiving touchdowns. There is no doubt that Brown could have continued the trend, but nine seasons was enough for him.

    From what we have learned from watching today's game, perhaps he just took too much abuse at the position. There were not as many rules back than, and that potentially could have taken a hit and forced Brown to consider early retirement before things got worse.

Justine Henin

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    Justine Henin first retired from the game at only 26 years old. She was on top of the world at the time, as she ranked the No. 1 women player in the world.

    Henin's retirement confused many, but really she was just looking to take a break from the game and enjoy her life. Tennis is a tough sport, as it doesn't give anyone much time to just relax. They are constantly traveling all around the world, and all they are doing is eating, thinking and playing tennis.

    Henin had briefly returned to the sport in 2010, but once again retired in 2011 due to ongoing elbow injuries. Her second retirement came at only 28 years old.

Barry Sanders

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    When Barry Sanders left the Detroit Lions and the NFL at only 30 years old, many could not believe what they were hearing.

    Sanders was in no way injured, and he was clearly one of the best players in the game. He had already run for 15,269 yards in only 10 seasons. He also had 99 rushing touchdowns as well as another 10 in receptions.

    When he retired, he was just behind Walter Payton. If Sanders continued his career, he likely would have surpassed both him and Emmit Smith at the rate he was going.

Brandon Roy

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    The Blazers' young shooting guard, Brandon Roy, is retiring at only 27 years old. Once a promising young rising star, Roy has been troubled by knee injuries.

    He has tried to make many efforts back to getting on the court, but ultimately the injuries have been far too bad. Roy's retirement comes at much of a surprise for the league, as many teams were seeing him as their primary target in free agency after the Blazers were likely going to release him.

    Time will tell, but this is perhaps the last we will see of Roy.

Sandy Koufax

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    There is no denying the success that Sandy Koufax had during his short 12-year career. In just 12 seasons, Koufax had a record of 165-87 with a career ERA of 2.76. He also struck out 2,396 batters over his career.

    Koufax had to retire due to arm issues at 30 years old. In his final season, the lefty had an overall record of 27-9 with a 1.73 ERA. To the eye, there seemed to be no problem with Koufax, but his arm was hurting badly.

    After they lost the 1966 World Series, Koufax was forced to retire from the game he loved.

Tiki Barber

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    Tiki Barber retired from the game at 31 years old. The New York Giants running back was by far one of the best in the game, but he didn't want to risk his post-playing days any longer.

    Barber retired and pursued a career into TV broadcast. While he did have some success on joining a few different programs, Barber needed to get back on the field.

    After a five-year absence, Barber has tried to get back into the NFL. That likely isn't going to happen for him, but he perhaps could have enjoyed those few more years had he not retired.

Jake Plummer

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    When Jake Plummer was traded from the Denver Broncos to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 32-year-old signal caller decided to call it quits.

    From the way Plummer went out, many would argue that he retired too young, because he was acting childish. He was traded, and that is the game. He wasn't happy about the move, so he just decided to retire.

    Plummer had only played in the league for 10 years, and over that time he threw for 29,253 yards. There was likely still much left in the tank for Plummer, but playing in Tampa wasn't enough of a reason to play.

Bjorn Borg

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    Bjorn Borg retired from the game of tennis at 26 years old. Over his short career he won a total of 11 Grand Slams, including six French Opens. He won the French four times in a row from 1978-81.

    There was no doubt that Borg was one of the greatest to play the game, but eventually the game just got to him. His life was in shambles, as his fashion line was failing and he was going through a divorce.

    If Borg would have won one of the four U.S. Open appearances, perhaps he would have played longer. Repeat losses to John McEnroe just frustrated the Swede, and he had to call it a career.

Robert Smith

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    The Minnesota Vikings running back Robert Smith walked away from the game after only eight seasons. His career got off to a slow start, but in 1997 he broke out for 1,261 yards. 

    Smith's career was heading in the right direction, as once again in 2000 he broke 1,000 yards with a 1,521 yard season. Despite the season he had, he decided to retire at the peak of his career.

    No one can be sure if Smith would have continued his upward trend, or if following his 1,521 yard season he was going to be on the decline.

    He currently is still the all-time leading rusher in Vikings history with 6,818 total yards.