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David Wilson and 10 NFL Players Who Were Forced To Retire

David Wilson and 10 NFL Players Who Were Forced To Retire

Cleveland Browns v New York Giants
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Football is an unforgiving game. Professional football is played at a speed and with such unparalleled intensity to most other contact sports. Before advancements in medical technology, many players were forced to hang up their cleats prematurely. Some still are, as was the case with promising 23-year-old Giants running back, David Wilson. Others are forced into retirement under a whole other set of circumstances. Here are 10 of those instances.

10. Ellis Hobbs

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10. Ellis Hobbs

ellis hobbs
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Hobbs was a third-round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft out of Iowa State. He played for six seasons as a DB/KR for the Patriots and Eagles, before a a cervical disc injury during a game on November 21, 2010 caused him to be carted off the field. In July of the following year, at the age of 28, Hobbs announced his retirement from pro football.

9. Christian Okoye

Christian Okoye
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9. Christian Okoye

Christian Okoye
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In the late 80s and early 90s, the Nigerian Nightmare was one of the most feared ball carriers in the NFL. At 6-foot-1 and 253 pounds, he ran with ferocity and power reminiscent of the great Jim Brown. At 31, Okoye retired due to nagging knee injuries. He claimed it was more a case of football "feeling like a job to him." News flash Mr. Okoye, 99 percent of the population works a job to survive. Playing pro football for a payday is a blessing.

8. Darryl Stingley

New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens
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8. Darryl Stingley

New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens
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Stingley's fate came at the helmet of Oakland Raiders safety Jack "The Assassin" Tatum on August 12, 1978. The wide receiver was hit high by Tatum, and the impact from the incident left him a quadriplegic. The one-time first-round draft pick of the New England Patriots passed away in 2007 at age 55 due to heart disease and pneumonia complicated by his paralysis.

7. Kenechi Udeze

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7. Kenechi Udeze

kenechi udeze
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Udeze was a standout defensive lineman in college for the USC Trojans and an All-American in 2003. The Vikings drafted him 20th overall in 2004. About one month before his 25th birthday in 2008, it was announced that Udeze was diagnosed with leukemia. After attempting a comeback, complications from chemotherapy treatments forced his retirement in 2009. He is now a member of the Seattle Seahawks' coaching staff.

6. Rae Carruth

Rae Carruth
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6. Rae Carruth

Rae Carruth
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Carruth had his pregnant girlfriend at the time, Cherica Adams, shot in 1999. She fell into a coma and eventually died, but doctors managed to save the infant. Carruth fled, and was later apprehended by authorities hiding in the trunk of a car outside a motel in Tennessee. He was sentenced to serve 18-24 years in prison, and subsequently his career with the Carolina Panthers ended when he was 25 years old.

5. Aaron Hernandez

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5. Aaron Hernandez

aaron hernandez
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By all accounts, Hernandez was a talented NFL tight end. He is also a delinquent with a short temper, and is charged with the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, as well as being tied to a double homicide that took place in Boston in the summer of 2012. Technically, he is a FA pending the outcome of his trials. But it's safe to say with a first degree murder charge pending, Hernandez will never play another NFL game in his lifetime. He is only 24.

4. Joe Theisman

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4. Joe Theisman

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Theisman is the reason the NFL has evolved into a sport where a sturdy offensive tackle is paid more money than a running back who can run for 1,500 yards and score 15 touchdowns in a season. After a stint in the CFL, he made a name for himself as QB of the Washington Redskins. Lawrence Taylor gave him a compound fracture in his leg while sacking him in a 1985 game, and he retired shortly thereafter at age 36.

3. Troy Aikman

Troy Aikman
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3. Troy Aikman

Troy Aikman
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Aikman was a pro football Hall of Fame inductee in 2006. He is a three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, but he retired at what is considered a premature age for his position, at 34. Aikman suffered multiple concussions in his 2000 season, but claims it was the chronic pain from a back surgery following the Cowboys' Super Bowl XXVII victory that forced him to retire early in 2001.

2. Gale Sayers

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2. Gale Sayers

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The Kansas Comet was legendary in his time. The Chicago Bears' Hall of Fame running back ran with such speed and agility, he may have revolutionized the position. After multiple torn ligaments in his knees, his hand was forced to announce retirement in 1972 at only 28 years old. In 1977, Sayers became, and still is, the youngest player ever to be enshrined in Canton.

1. Bo Jackson

BO JACKSON RAIDERS
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1. Bo Jackson

BO JACKSON RAIDERS
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Jackson was marketed more than any other pro athlete at the time in his prime. The popular "Bo Knows" campaign by Nike was everywhere, much like the two-sport athlete that he was. His NFL career was barely underway in 1990 when he was 28, and then a freak hip injury on what appeared to be a relatively harmless tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals forced his retirement. He went on to play four more seasons of MLB, retiring in 1994.