Calvin Johnson And 4 NFL Stars Who Retired Way Too Early

By Timothy Downs

Reports indicate Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson has informed his team he is retiring, and the decision has shocked NFL fans and media alike. But Johnson is hardly the first star to retire far before he had nothing left to offer the game, as these players did so years ago.

Calvin Johnson And 4 NFL Stars Who Retired Way Too Early
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5. Barry Sanders - RB - Detroit Lions

Barry Sanders - RB - Detroit Lions Credit: Getty Images
Barry Sanders is one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL, and appeared to have plenty of football left in him when he retired after the 1998 season at just 30 years old. In 10 seasons, Sanders tallied 15,269 rushing yards over 3,062 carries, averaging a stellar 5.0 YPC for his career, and scored 109 TDs (99 rushing, 10 receiving) which landed him in the Hall of Fame. Sanders was said to be perfectly healthy when he left the game.

5. Barry Sanders - RB - Detroit Lions

Barry Sanders is one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL, and appeared to have plenty of football left in him when he retired after the 1998 season at just 30 years old. In 10 seasons, Sanders tallied 15,269 rushing yards over 3,062 carries, averaging a stellar 5.0 YPC for his career, and scored 109 TDs (99 rushing, 10 receiving) which landed him in the Hall of Fame. Sanders was said to be perfectly healthy when he left the game.

4. Jim Brown - FB - Cleveland Browns

Jim Brown - FB - Cleveland Browns Credit: Getty Images
Jim Brown was considered a full back during his career, but was utilized as a running back. And if you ask anyone who saw him play, they will tell you he was the best running back in the history of the sport. Brown played just nine seasons for the Cleveland Browns, yet managed to finish with 12,312 rushing yards and an astronomical 126 TDs (106 rushing, 20 receiving). He retired with every individual career rushing record at 29 years old, and probably had a solid four seasons at minimum left in him, but decided to go out before a decline in production took place.

4. Jim Brown - FB - Cleveland Browns

Jim Brown was considered a full back during his career, but was utilized as a running back. And if you ask anyone who saw him play, they will tell you he was the best running back in the history of the sport. Brown played just nine seasons for the Cleveland Browns, yet managed to finish with 12,312 rushing yards and an astronomical 126 TDs (106 rushing, 20 receiving). He retired with every individual career rushing record at 29 years old, and probably had a solid four seasons at minimum left in him, but decided to go out before a decline in production took place.

3. Tiki Barber - RB - New York Giants

Tiki Barber - RB - New York Giants Credit: Getty Images
Tiki Barber, like Jim Brown and Barry Sanders before him, retired at/right around 30 years old despite having plenty left in the tank. In his last season in 2006, Barber was spectacular, tallying 1,662 rushing yards and five TDs on the ground, to go along with another 465 yards in the pass attack. The New York Giants went on to win a Super Bowl the next season, and Barber's post playing career in broadcasting did not go as expected.

3. Tiki Barber - RB - New York Giants

Tiki Barber, like Jim Brown and Barry Sanders before him, retired at/right around 30 years old despite having plenty left in the tank. In his last season in 2006, Barber was spectacular, tallying 1,662 rushing yards and five TDs on the ground, to go along with another 465 yards in the pass attack. The New York Giants went on to win a Super Bowl the next season, and Barber's post playing career in broadcasting did not go as expected.

2. Calvin Johnson - WR - Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson - WR - Detroit Lions Credit: Getty Images
Calvin Johnson might not have had a career year in 2015, but still dominated with 1,214 receiving yards and nine TDs. He dealt with a number of injuries over the last few seasons, but none that appeared to be severe enough to prevent him from playing for another three or four years. News of Johnson's retirement has shocked the NFL world, and will undoubtedly force the Detroit Lions to go about their offseason in a very different manner.

2. Calvin Johnson - WR - Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson might not have had a career year in 2015, but still dominated with 1,214 receiving yards and nine TDs. He dealt with a number of injuries over the last few seasons, but none that appeared to be severe enough to prevent him from playing for another three or four years. News of Johnson's retirement has shocked the NFL world, and will undoubtedly force the Detroit Lions to go about their offseason in a very different manner.

1. Gale Sayers - RB - Chicago Bears

Gale Sayers - RB - Chicago Bears Credit: Getty Images
Gale Sayers was one of the most talented running backs the NFL has ever seen. Sayers led the league in rushing yards twice (1966, 1969) and was named first-team All-Pro five times despite playing just seven seasons. Sayers barely played in 1970 and 1971 as injuries ultimately caught up to him, and he made the tough decision to retire following the 1971 season at just 28 years old.

1. Gale Sayers - RB - Chicago Bears

Gale Sayers was one of the most talented running backs the NFL has ever seen. Sayers led the league in rushing yards twice (1966, 1969) and was named first-team All-Pro five times despite playing just seven seasons. Sayers barely played in 1970 and 1971 as injuries ultimately caught up to him, and he made the tough decision to retire following the 1971 season at just 28 years old.

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