These are the NFL players who retired too soon. These guys still had enough in the tank to play a season or two more. I am not talking about players who quit over injuries; they just walked away too soon. Here is my list in order of who should have played longer.
1- Jim Brown- He set all the major NFL career rushing records for the Browns. He ran for 12,312 yards and 106 rushing touchdowns. He did this in only 9 seasons in fewer games per season as today's players, and he never missed any of his 119 games. He was the most dominate running back in the history of the game. Teams gang tackled him, and planned their defense to try to stop him and couldn't. The sad thing is, that Jim quit to be an actor, and then when it looked like Franco Harris would break his record, he threatened a comeback in his 40's. If he had played 2 or 3 more seasons he wouldn't have had to worry about it. In 1965 his last
season he ran for 1,544 yards a 5.3 per carry average and 17 touchdowns (in 14 games) and added 34 receptions for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. He could easily played 3 or 4 more seasons in top form, barring injury.
2- Barry Sanders-He retired in his prime, less than 1,500 yards short of Walter Payton's career rushing record. Barry was so elusive that he was seldom injured and I believe he could easily added 2 or 3 more seasons. He was possibly the most exciting, big play threat to ever play the position. He ended up with 15,269 yards 5.0 yards per carry average and 99 touchdowns. In his last season he rushed for 1,491 yards a 4.3 average and 4 touchdowns adding 37 receptions for 289 yards, this shows he could have played 2 or 3 more good seasons if he wanted to.
3-John Elway- Yeah he played a long time at quarterback for The Broncos but he left a season or two too soon. He left on his own terms on top with 2 Super Bowl wins in a row and as good as
Denver was, he could have had 3. He ended up with 51,475 yards passing and 300 touchdowns as well as 3,407 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns. His last season he passed for 2,806 yards and an amazing 22 touchdowns to only 10 interception ratio. This is a very important qb stat. When Quarterbacks are old and have shot their wad they throw many more interceptions than touchdowns.
4- Roger Staubach- Yeah he was 37 when he retired. But his naval service took 4 years from his career, in which he wasn't getting hammered. He only played in 131 games for the Cowboys and he was still good when he walked away. His last season he threw for 3,586 yards 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions (remember old worn out qbs throw more picks than tds) and he also ran for 172 yards. Danny White took the team to the NFC championship game 2 or 3 seasons in a row to lose after Roger retired. Roger would have gone to at least 2 more Super Bowls and won them with that team had he kept playing.
5- Joe Montana, another one with a long career but his injury
problems had gone away with the Chiefs and he was still playing at a high level. As a Chiefs fan it really hurt me to see him walk away. His last season he threw for 3,283 yards 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. And he still had the same ole come from behind magic. He could have played at least one more season.