The NFL’s a cruel business, and that hits home for any fantasy football player who hits the way-back machine and checks out drafts from years ago. Oh yes, back in the days when Priest Holmes ruled the land, with Shaun Alexander not close behind.
2011 saw the voluntary retirements of guys like Brett Favre and Randy Moss, along with an involuntary leave of absence for Terrell Owens. Owens may try and come back, but the safe bet is we’ve seen the last of those three Hall of Fame players. Here are 20 guys who might not be Hall of Famers, but have seen some great years in the NFL … and are D-O-N-E.
1. Matt Hasselbeck: 350 yards last Saturday vs. Jacksonville aside, it’s time to hand the keys over to Jake Locker.
2. Donovan McNabb: it was a pretty bad sign when the Bears took a look at McNabb, then glanced over at Caleb Hanie and said, “Nah, we’re cool.”
3. LaDainian Tomlinson: only 224 yards rushing this year on 3.5 yards per carry. Unless the Pats need a replacement for Kevin Faulk, he might be done.
4. Thomas Jones: it makes me feel better than it should that Jones (10,549 yards) passed Tiki Barber (10,449) on the all-time rushing list. Quietly, Jones had a great career, rushing for 1,100+ yards every year from 2005-09. The Cardinals totally screwed up on Jones, drafting him 7th overall in 2000 and giving up on him after three seasons.
5. Ricky Williams: got so much crap for taking off on his hippie sabbatical, but with the way he ran throughout his career there’s no way he’d still be playing at 34 if he didn’t take that time off (then again, after all that trouble he got in he still probably needs the money).
6. Ronnie Brown: when it comes to why RBs won’t be drafted No. 2 overall anymore (as Brown was in what might end up being known as the strangest first round in NFL Draft history), here’s Exhibit A. Decent player, but ultimately his injury issues and inconsistent play proved maddening.
7. Hines Ward: if you haven’t already retired when you go on Dancing With The Stars, you soon will.
8. Donald Driver: overshadowed at times by guys like Antonio Freeman and Greg Jennings, Driver is the leading receiver in Packers history.
9. Derrick Mason: he wanted to retire a few years ago but the Ravens talked him out of it; no one will talk the 36-year-old out of leaving now.
10. Chad Ochocinco: watching him catch his first TD of the season and immediately start talking trash in Denver was kind of cute, but when you put him next to the new guard of receivers (A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant) Ocho almost looks like he’s from another era, at least physically.
11. T.J. Houshmandzadeh: unless Carson Palmer demands he stays, “who’s your mama” is headed to a network studio near you (if you live in NY or LA).
12. Todd Heap: replaced by Heath Miller as the TE with a name fans love to yell that doesn’t rhyme with “boo.”
13. Jason Taylor: he may have a year left, but his days as a starter are over.
14. Al Harris: the fact he’s still an NFL CB at 37 is pretty remarkable.
15. Joey Porter: Arizona recently put him on IR.
16. Keith Brooking: with the emergence of Sean Lee, Brooking will have to join another team for any hopes at playing time last year. That probably won’t happen.
17. Mike Peterson: never made a Pro Bowl, but Peterson had a very strong 13-year career and made 2nd-team All Pro in 2005.
18. Patrick Crayton: was never a star, but the star on his helmet made people think he was better than he was. This year with the Chargers he’s caught 22 passes for 225 yards with some mediocre punt returning (9.2 yard average).
19. Braylon Edwards: when receivers get slow and can’t stay on the field, the end is near. And between coming up with this list a few days ago and actually publishing it, Edwards was released by the 49ers.
20. Peyton…: we’ll hold off on that for a few months, but after all those neck surgeries his great career may already be over.