With all of Simpson’s legal drama and murder cases, it’s easy to forget that he was also a brilliant football player. He played for the Buffalo Bills for nine seasons before ending his career in San Francisco after two years with the 49ers. But it was with the former where he was at his best.
Simpson is an all-time great running back. He holds the amazing distinction of being the only player ever to rush for over 2,000 yards in the old 14-game format. It’s almost a shame that he didn’t get to retire with the Bills. But he cashed in and spent his two final seasons in the Golden State.
One of the greatest running backs in NFL history, Tomlinson was also a loyal servant to the San Diego Chargers. Overall, he spent nine seasons in California. Then he moved to the New York Jets where he ended his career after two seasons. But it was his time in San Diego where he made his name.
Tomlinson was truly elite and demonstrated this in 2006 by winning the NFL MVP award. Furthermore, he was the league’s rushing leader for two seasons in a row, as nobody was able to stop him. Selected five times for the Pro Bowl, Tomlinson retired after a ceremonial re-signing with the Chargers.
It’s ironic but the same thing that happened to Brett Favre may happen to his successor Aaron Rodgers after the Green Bay Packers drafted Jordan Love. The Wisconsin franchise has had incredible quarterbacks throughout its history, like Bart Starr and Arnie Herber. But they’re merciless when it comes to succession plans.
So Favre discovered when he tried to come back out of retirement after 16 seasons and a Super Bowl with the Packers. However, they put their faith in Rodgers and a bitter Favre moved to pastures new. A season with the Jets followed before he enraged his old Packer fans by spending two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
Time is never kind to sports stars and that proved to be the case for Rice. The 49ers star spent 16 seasons in San Francisco before he moved to Oakland. This came about after the emergence of Terrell Owens pushed the aging legend to one side. Finally, he ended his career with the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s a pity that the greatest wide receiver ever didn’t end his career with the team where he had his greatest moments. A three-time Super Bowl winner, Rice also made the Pro Bowl an incredible 13 times. Meanwhile, he holds the record for most points scored by a non-kicker in the NFL with a stunning 1,256.
The former Eagles quarterback was a true hero in Philadelphia. He wore their green for a sizzling 11 seasons and brought them to a Super Bowl finals. Furthermore, he added six Pro Bowl appearances to his record during his time as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
However, in 2010, the Eagles traded the aging McNabb to the Washington Redskins where he stayed for a season. Washington traded him to the Minnesota Vikings where he finally ended his career. It would have been nice if he could have retired as an Eagle as that was the franchise that held his loyalty.
You’ve got to respect players who choose to spend the bulk of their careers with a weak franchise, even if they’re good enough to play for a Super Bowl contender. Taylor was very loyal to the team that drafted him. He spent nine years with the Jacksonville Jaguars before two with the Patriots.
Taylor made the Pro Bowl once as a Jaguar but that doesn’t paint the full picture. He’s a franchise legend and if he played for a more fashionable team for longer, he would have played in more Pro Bowl games. After leaving the Patriots he signed a one-day contract with his old team so he could retire as a Jaguar.
A true NFL legend, Harris spent 13 seasons in the NFL. He established himself as one of the greatest fullbacks ever throughout 12 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In sum, he should have ended his career there but didn’t. He moved for a year to Seahawks where he didn’t do much during his single season in Seattle.
Harris helped the Steelers to Super Bowl glory four times through an incredible dynasty in the ’70s. He was also the Super Bowl MVP in his first appearance in the showpiece event. Needless to say, he entered the Hall of Fame after his retirement. It’s just a pity he didn’t get to end his career as a one-franchise man with the Steelers.
One of the Kansas City Chiefs’ most reliable performers for 12 seasons, he then moved to the Atlanta Hawks for five. Even though that’s quite a chunk of time and they wear similar colors, it was still strange to see him in another team’s uniform. Especially when fans associate him so strongly with the Chiefs.
Gonzalez is one of the greatest tight ends of all-time and holds several NFL records. Selected for the Pro Bowl for 10 consecutive seasons while with the Chiefs, his consistency was unbelievable. Even as he got older, he was still effective and made the Pro Bowl four times with the Hawks.
One of the greatest running backs of all-time, Smith is a Dallas Cowboys’ icon. Smith become an NFL and Super MVP when he won the Super Bowl winner in 1993. He also led the NFL in rushing yards. In sum, he was the only player to obtain these four landmarks in the same season, a staggering achievement.
Smith was the Cowboys’ star man for 13 seasons before he left for pastures new. It was bizarre to see him in an Arizona Cardinals’ uniform after so long in the white and blue of America’s Team. In retrospect, it was jarring as seeing Tom Brady wearing the opposite of what we normally expect. But he played for two seasons in Arizona.
Not many players had a career like Unitas. A three-time NFL champion and then a Super Bowl champion following the league’s merger, his record is glittering. Furthermore, Unitas was extremely loyal to the Baltimore Colts and played for the team for an amazing 17 years.
Then he joined the San Diego Chargers and his career kind of fizzled out. Unitas only made five appearances for the Californian franchise before his career ended. However, the 10-time Pro Bowl selection was far beyond his best. It’s a shame he didn’t retire in Baltimore where the fans adored him.
Manning’s name is synonymous with the Indianapolis Colts. He helped bring a Super Bowl to the team and was also their star man during his 11 years with the team. It’s also slightly unfair to criticize him for leaving the Colts for the Broncos because he had spent four years in Denver when his career ended there.
Of course, it was ultimately injuries that ended his Colts’ career. They were unable to wait for him and drafted Andrew Luck. Then Manning became a free agent and several teams pressed for his signing. In the end, he won Super Bowl 50 with them in his final season as a professional.
Montana spent two years with the Kansas City Chiefs, but it never looked right. During 14 years with the San Francisco 49ers, he established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. To sum up, it feels like a pity that he ended his career with a different team.
‘Joe Cool’ was a four-time Super Bowl champion in San Francisco and was also a three-time Super Bowl MVP. In short, this superstar won almost every individual award under the sun, from Offensive Player of the Year to two MVP awards. However, the emergence of Steve Young eventually forced him out before retirement.