Why is it that the careers of beloved athletes seem to end overnight while the rotten ones remain stuck in our craws for an eternity? It’s an age old question that the world’s greatest minds have yet to figure out, though a few early leads have said it’s just one perspective and people have to get over themselves. Until common knowledge does justify this so-called “perspective,” it’s important for fans to vent about those players who should never go, and those who can’t find the exit soon enough.
It’s a not a phenomenon isolated to one sport. In baseball guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera could’ve stayed on the Yankees for ages, but A-Rod? He should’ve skipped town after getting swept in the 2012 ALCS. Basketball fans know all too well how irritating Kevin Garnett can be or how haphazard Metta World Peace is on and off the court. Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, would’ve never left the game if it was up to fans, even with his broken body. Though out of all the headcases and game-time heroes in professional sports, it’s the NFL players that stick with us the most.
That’s why we’re taking counting down the seven NFL players who need to grace our TV sets forever and the eight guys who need to go become hermits in the woods. Joking aside, let’s get to the list.
16 Ryan Fitzpatrick - Go Away
Fitzpatrick is a real jerk. After duping the Buffalo Bills for a big money contract a few years back, this “journeyman” quarterback swindled his way to another (short-term) big money deal with the Jets over the offseason.
Clearly we see how well that’s worked out. One touchdown and a whopping 10 interceptions have landed Fitz-tragic on the bench, being superseded by the mediocre Geno Smith. Consensus is that without number-two wide receiver Eric Decker or a dominant runner in the backfield (as was the case with Chris Ivory last year) the Jets just can’t do enough to hide Ryan’s deficiencies.
Whatever the case is, New Yorkers have no patience for this schmuck anymore. A 1-5 start to the year after all his offseason antics, puh-lease. Maybe this Harvard alumni can get a job somewhere outside off football field. Matter of fact, just somewhere very far away from a football.
15 Larry Fitzgerald - Stay Forever
Arizona’s very own “Larry Legend” has had a great career despite years of anonymity in between Kurt Warner’s departure and Carson Palmer’s arrival. It’s that resiliency and ability to perform even when his success is completely dependent on another player that’s made Fitzgerald one of the NFL’s few darlings.
Though football hasn’t been kind to Larry Fitz ever since that Super Bowl loss to the Steelers at the end of the 2008 season. A lot of lost seasons as the Cardinals couldn’t get their act together until current head coach Bruce Arians arrived in 2013. Fitzgerald himself described his bitterness well once, saying “Once you’ve had the caviar, it’s hard to go back to popcorn shrimp.” I couldn’t say it better myself.
Still, this is life in the NFL. Being on a team means you have to enjoy the highs and ride out the lows. Unfortunately Larry will have to leave the league soon, so hopefully it’s on a high note.
14 Jay Cutler - Go Away
Cutler’s small, but diehard fanbase let out a big cheer Thursday night (Bears vs Packers) when incumbent quarterback Brian Hoyer left the game with a broken arm. If Cutler gets back on the recovery track, he could supplant Matt Barkley and take the reigns in Chicago once again. Score!
But really, who does that help? Safe to say at this point, not even Jay himself. His cool guy attitude mixed with a city that has been promised the world and given little in return isn’t boding well for Cuter. Add in that former teammates are coming out of the woodwork blasting his demeanor and professionalism and it seems Cutler and Chicago are headed for a rocky divorce.
Where will Juicy Jay land next? That’s hard to say. Two cities you can definitely scratch off are Denver and Chicago though. They’ve seen Cutler’s horror first-hand and have lived to tell the tale. Question is, why haven’t people wised up to him yet?
13 James Harrison - Stay Forever
The NFL’s infamous Hitman, Harrison was a key component in helping make the game safer back in 2007. Now a grizzled veteran who’s (finally) learned how to tackle, Number 92 has become poster boy of intimidation for a Steelers team that lacks the terror of past defenses.
It’s true that Harrison isn’t the scariest guy on the field for Pittsburgh anymore. If anything he’s more like the doting grandfather. But he still is a piece of living nostalgia for many Steeler fans who remember the the Super Bowl runs in 2006, 2008 and 2010, coming away with two titles in their three appearances. For those who miss the days of Joey Porter, Troy Polamalu, a young Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior dominating the field, Harrison is the embodiment of those guys and what they brought to the team.
Sadly though, the end is near for Harrison. His production is outweighed by younger, fresher talent. It’s just reality in the NFL, though for many they wish it didn’t have to be that way.
12 Tony Romo - Go Away
When you look at Romo’s career, it’s always been dependent on external factors. For a while, it was Jessica Simpson who tugged him into poor fits of play. Then it was a weak offensive line that exposed him to shot after shot and aided the degeneration of his body. Now it’s a rookie sensation named Dak Prescott who’s rallied a fanbase and team around his heady plays.
What does that mean for Romo? He’s getting the boot, that’s what! Everyone knows you don’t stop a good thing for no reason. Back in 2014 the Washington Redskins won two games with Colt McCoy under center (including that overtime thriller against Dallas) only to replace him against the Minnesota Vikings a week later for dilapidated RG3. Washington only won a game for the rest of the season, thanks to owner Dan Snyder’s hubris.
Jerry Jones can be known for flashy moves himself, but even understands that Dallas has to ride out Dak until the end. With that in mind, Tony better start filling out his resume because he’s at least switching teams--if not jobs-- in the very near future.
10 Anquan Boldin - Stay Forever
The NFL’s true Mr. Reliable, Boldin once shared the stage with Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. Though while Larry stayed true to the Cardinals, Boldin made a career out of moving around in the league to help fringe contenders take their game to the next level.
Check out his track record. Following Arizona he landed in Baltimore only to help Joe Flacco have one of the most successful postseasons in league history and win the Super Bowl ring he deserved in 2008. Then he was traded to San Francisco and served as a solid receiving option for then-starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Now he’s in Detroit giving Matthew Stafford the security blanket not named Calvin Johnson he’s always needed.
Boldin’s done it all in the NFL and continues to do it some more. It just sucks to know that one day he’ll have to hang up the cleats for good.
9 Joe Thomas - Go Away
Kind of weird to throw Thomas on here because he’s actually done nothing wrong in his career. A stalwart left tackle for the woeful Cleveland Browns, Joe T has been as solid as solid can be. That’s why for this player and this player only I’m flipping the meaning of “go away.”
Thomas doesn’t need to leave the league, but he definitely needs to leave Cleveland. The Browns have conceded into a full rebuild mode and aren’t going to put anyone remotely worth protecting behind Thomas for some time. So in response, Thomas has to take care of himself and move on to a real organization that actually needs him.
Part of it could be some off-field concern such as his family likes Cleveland and doesn’t want to move. While that may sound a little strange to us outsiders, I’ve been told Cleveland rocks so maybe we’re the ones missing out. Point being, I can’t explain why Thomas would go down with a ship that hasn’t given him a reason to stay. He deserves better for himself, especially as a player.
8 Terence Newman - Stay Forever
A cynical and snarky delivery of the name “Newman” used to be one of most famous lines from TV’s Seinfeld back in the day. But this Newman (Terence, that is) has become one of the more inspirational figures for the upstart Minnesota Vikings in 2016, and for good reason.
Once a staple of the Cowboys secondary and then the elder statesmen of a young and ambitious Bengals team, Newman has made a name for himself being the mature voice for his team. That has played well with teammates who value the old man’s insight and his ability to perform on Sundays even late into his 30’s. With Newman helping guide this nameless yet talented Vikings defense, the sky’s the limit on what Minnesota can accomplish.
For their sake, let’s hope it’s something along the lines of a Super Bowl title. Minnesota has never won the big one, and neither has Newman. It would appear both are due, especially as Newman’s time begins to run out.
7 DeAngelo Hall - Go Away
In his youth he was an exciting, though sometimes reckless playmaker for the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders and now Washington Redskins. But ever since suffering two season ending injuries in three years, D-Hall has lost a major step in his game.
Need I remind you about that infamous Hard Knocks clip when it showed Hall jawing with DeAndre Hopkins, only to get injured the next play he covered him. It was reminiscent of that middle-aged guy who hangs around the blacktop court trying play 5-on-5 with 20-somethings. Hall needs to get his act together and realize his playing days are officially behind him.
Injury serving as the reminder is a rough lesson, but probably the best one. Hall will only inflict further damage to his body if he stays on the field, making his retirement a must-do.
6 Steve Smith Sr. - Stay Forever
Another former Panther as well as resident tough guy, Smith has never backed down from a challenge. That intensity has served him well and has kept his motor running well into his thirties as Smith continues to make plays as a long-toothed veteran.
Smith’s in-your-face approach would appear to be a hindrance given his tiny frame, but short body hides the immense strength he possesses. It’s what allowed him to lift a New Orleans Saints player by the facemask in an on-field fight back in 2011. Though when you play with fire you ultimately get burned, as Smith’s aggression is what caused him to grind gears in Carolina and find refuge in Baltimore.
Smith remains a winner through and through. He was the lone offensive bright spot for Baltimore the past few seasons as they’ve struggled to regain their footing after the 2012 Super Bowl victory. It’ll be hard for anyone to replicate what Smith brings to the game once he finally calls it quits.
5 Jacksonville Jaguars Organization - Go Away
Collectively, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been a mess. Whenever they zig, the world seems to zag. In response, the Jaguars continue to be fooled by the same old tricks and can’t get out of their own way, leaving the city fairly hopeless in terms of short or long-term success.
Just look at their recent history. Fourth-year head coach Gus Bradley hasn’t done anything to get this team on a consistent path. The defense --last year’s problem-- was the complete focus of this year’s offseason and was supposed to compliment the dynamic offense of Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns from a year ago. Yet, while the front seven is solid now, Bortles has regressed as a passer and fails to put his team in winning situations week in and out.
I’m sure fans long for the days of Jack Del Rio, who at least stabilized the ugliness for seasons at a time. No one in the building for Jacksonville seems to have a clue what to do, and it’s showing, so why not just gift the franchise to another city.
4 DeAngelo Williams - Stay Forever
Once apart of the two-headed monster of a running game in Carolina with DeShaun Foster (remember that guy?) Williams has always been able to compete with the NFL’s best. Now serving as a reliever for Le'Veon Bell in Pittsburgh, Williams has earned a chance to be on one more really great team to finish out his career.
It’s a fitting end for a player who’s been just as good on the field as he has off of it. Williams lost his mother to breast cancer in 2014 after she had endured a 10-year battle with the disease. Many point to Williams as the main reason the NFL has embraced of breast cancer awareness and survivors of breast cancer throughout the month of October. His services to not only raising awareness but also in consoling those families who’ve had to deal with cancer has been a great credit to Williams' morality.
A class act through and through, Williams is one of the league’s best at being a person as well as a player. It’ll be hard to watch him leave the sport in the near future.
3 Ndamukong Suh - Go Away
A young player who’s in his physical prime, Suh has wasted his abilities by being an incessant piece of shit. That might play well to teammates who feed off his mean streak themselves, but it does him no favors in games as it seems to be his greatest weakness.
Opposing teams spotlight Suh in games and goad him into playing dirty. And, good ol’ reliable Suh always finds a way to cave and get a flag thrown his way. Even worse, his mean streak doesn’t even contribute to winning. As a member of the Miami Dolphins Suh hasn’t been able to shore up a rough defense, and in Detroit before he rarely helped the cause for his team.
For being one of the most highly-paid players in the league, Suh definitely falls short of the price tag. If you aren’t winning, you’re worthless in the NFL. Suh’s allowed labels like “overpaid” and “overrated” to apply, making him an unsalvageable wreck of a player.
2 Tom Brady - Stay Forever
Come on. Was there really any mystery here? Tom Terrific is practically ageless, even when he’s knocking on the door of 40 years old. His ability to dice up defenses and chuck the ball downfield with the best of them has made him legend above all legends.
Just look at what Brady has given the NFL. For one, he’s given the league an ultimate villain that every team wants to beat. Two, he’s also been apart of the most successful franchise in the 21st century and has made a dynasty out of the once irrelevant New England Patriots. Three, and most importantly, he had one of the greatest rivalries ever with another all-time quarterback in Peyton Manning.
When Tom goes, who knows what will become of football. Thankfully Brady’s on that ridiculously healthy diet that should keep him playing until he’s 45 like he intends to. Though the very thought of a Brady-less NFL is not one I’m excited to embrace.
1 Robert Griffin III - Go Away
A bit of marriage trauma and drama to start training camp followed by a foreseeable shoulder injury in the season opener make RG3 a prime candidate to get the boot from Cleveland in the offseason. Hopefully other front offices take cues from the Browns and Redskins and quarantine any attempt to acquire Griffin in the open market.
Bottom line is the guy can’t play. He may have the physical tools to compete, but he doesn’t have the discipline to stay relevant in the NFL long enough to make a difference. The lightning in the bottle that was his rookie year will never be replicated again, putting RG3’s career really behind the 8-ball. Oh well, I guess sometimes there are busts and sometimes there are studs.
Griffin can say all the right things but talking the talk only works until you have to walk the walk. One hype preseason game got everyone to raise an eyebrow. Game one got us to write off any chance of a real tenure on an NFL team.