The business of the NFL can be frustrating for players. It allows players some say in where they’ll play, but sometimes, great guys get stuck in really bad situations. The game that was once sugary sweet becomes bitter and boring, and the men who serve as supremely entertaining, exceptionally talented athletes decide it’s time to move on to other life ambitions. Sometimes, this happens when a guy is in his prime or playing at the top of his game. Here are 11 NFL players who retired with fuel left in the tank.
12. Carson Palmer
Okay. We know we said 11 players, but we get one cheat on this list at #12. A player to serve as an example of how fine the line is between “I’m in my prime,” and “I’m retiring.” Carson Palmer had a bittersweet run with the Cincinnati Bengals. He suffered a devastating knee injury when he was reaching the pinnacle of his career, and his two playoff appearances with the team were duds. After the 2010 season, in which the Bengals finished 4-12, Carson requested a trade. His request was rejected. Carson opted for the “trade me, or I’ll retire” route, and nobody believed him. Then, he didn’t show up to camp. At that point, everyone believed it: Carson was done. The first nine weeks of the season passed, and rookie QB Andy Dalton was capably leading the Bengals. At that point, Oakland reached out to Cincinnati and a deal was done, sending Carson to the Raiders. Now with the Arizona Cardinals, the 36-year started every game in 2015 and got all the way to the NFC Championship game. Not officially retired and still kind of in his prime at 36, Palmer is an anomaly on this list.