Pick Six  


Six players who retired from the NFL too soon


Roger Clemens is returning to the world of baseball. Not Major League Baseball, mind you (though the Oakland A's could use a pitcher right now). Clemens will pitch Saturday for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.

Why can't Clemens follow in the footsteps of other disgraced superstars who've had their name dragged through the mud and gone into reality TV, like Jose Canseco ("Surreal Life") and Jeff Kent ("Survivor")? Somehow, this doesn't seem like it will end well, and we'll be stuck with Mickey Rourke playing Clemens in a movie called "The Pitcher."

When you think of Clemens hanging around far too long, it's not hard to also think of some NFL greats who actually did the opposite and called it a career way too easily.

With that in mind, here are six guys who called it a career way "too soon."

And without further ado ...

  • Gaynell Tinsley

    Don Hutson (pictured) dominated the NFL in the 1930s and '40s, but nobody remembers Tinsley, who played  three seasons and might have been the league's first shutdown corner. Tinsley also excelled at receiver (they played both ways back then) and set the record for receiving yards in 1937. But the U.S. Navy called, and Tinsley never played in the NFL after 1940. He eventually went on to coach LSU.

  • Otto Graham

    Long before John Elway made it fashionable to go out after back-to-back Super Bowl wins, Graham retired in 1955 after the Browns beat the Los Angeles Rams for the NFL title. Maybe it was the right thing to do, as the Browns struggled to a 5-7 mark the following season.

  • Jake Plummer

    If you saw Plummer bumping around the set at NFL Fantasy Draft Week in New York, he looked like he could still play right now. But maybe that's for the best. Not only does he look pretty good for a former player, Plummer was able to escape from the tutelage of Mike Shanahan.

  • Kurt Warner

    If you watch the final game of Warner's career against the New Orleans Saints, it's hard to argue against the decision he made. But he ranks third on this list because his former receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, stays awake late at night reminiscing what it was like to have a proper quarterback throwing him the ball.

  • Jim Brown

    Brown is considered by many to be the best player in NFL history, as he led the league in rushing every year he played, except for one. Brown led the league with 1,544 rushing yards and tied a career high with 17 rushing touchdowns in 1965. And then he retired... at the age of 29! Though he did threaten to return to protect his rushing record as Franco Harris got close in the 1980s, Brown settled into a nice movie career.

  • Barry Sanders

    Sanders was closing in on Brown's Walter Payton's career mark when he decided to call it a career after the 1998 season. He also walked away from a rather lucrative contract. But with so much turnover going on in Detroit, Sanders shocked the world when he sent a retirement letter to his hometown paper in Oklahoma Kansas. Funny, he looks like he still could play today.


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