It's hard enough watching an older player break down and having his career come to an end, but it's even more difficult to watch a young player suffer devastating injuries that force them to hang up the cleats before hitting 30.
That's the harsh reality of today's NFL. Tomorrow is never promised today and it doesn't matter how young a player is, the chances of his career ending early are practically the same as those of a veteran pushing 30 or older. The NFL is no country for young or old men, equally.
We can't just point out guys dealing with injuries as a source of early retirement. Quarterback Sam Bradford is a prime example of a guy who is playing his way out of the league, while flash-in-the-pan Knile Davis has also seen his stock go from sky high to rock bottom in the span of a few seasons.
Once you see a player bouncing around and not performing up to snuff, you know it's just a matter of time before no team wants them, effectively forcing said player into retirement. That demise has been seen far too often over the course of the league's history.
There's also been a recent trend of players simply choosing to walk away early. Calvin Johnson retired this past offseason despite still being in good health with plenty of great football left in him. Whether it was him being tired of a losing culture in Detroit, or simply wanting to retire with his health, he walked away before the age of 30.
Whether it's a result of injuries, poor play or a matter of choice, there are a slew of players primed to retire before hitting 30 years old.
15 Robert Griffin III
The former Washington Redskins turned Cleveland Browns quarterback has been dealing with major injuries since his time in college with Baylor. RG3 tore his ACL there and then suffered the same injury during his rookie season after initially suffering a less serious knee injury earlier in the same season. Since then, Griffin III has not looked the same and his 26-year-old body has clearly seen injuries take a toll.
14 Martavis Bryant
Multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy has landed Bryant on the suspension list for the entirety of the 2016 season, just one year after he served a four-game ban for a similar violation. With all the talent in the world, Bryant is wasting everything simply because he likes to party and act recklessly.
13 Josh Gordon
Gordon showed superstar potential during a sophomore campaign in which he racked up over 1,600 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. It was all downhill from there for Gordon, as the 25-year-old broke the league's substance abuse policy multiple times and hasn't stepped on the field for a regular season game since 2014, another season in which he missed games due to suspension.
12 Sammy Watkins
Where do the injuries end for Watkins? The Buffalo Bills receiver is a special talent and his first two seasons with 2,000 total receiving yards proves that. The only problem for Watkins is that he's a walking injury report after having surgeries to both his hip and foot, as well as other nagging injuries to his calf and ankle.
11 Cody Kessler
You'd hate to try and call it for a guy so early in his career, however, we can't help but worry about Kessler at this point. In his rookie season, Kessler has been banged around with more injuries than we can count. In just five games, Kessler has suffered a concussion that forced him to miss multiple games and a rib injury, both of which forced him from games early.
10 Jordan Reed
Dating back to college, Jordan Reed has suffered five concussions, with the latest coming in 2016. Reed was sidelined for two games with the head injury and eventually made his return in Week 8. It's a shame for such a gifted player who has become an elite tight end in the league over the past few seasons.
9 Jordan Cameron
Another tight end named Jordan with a concussion problem is Cameron, who has lost a big chunk of the season so far due to the injury. The 28-year-old has missed more than half the Miami Dolphins' season already and there is no word on when he'll return to the field. Understandably, Cameron himself is concerned about his long-term health with multiple concussions to his name and is currently mulling over his future in the NFL.
8 Eddie Lacy
Whether he's overweight or dealing with a nagging injury, something is always wrong with Lacy. This season was no different as Lacy was sent to injured reserve due to an ankle injury that required surgery after playing in just five games. A guy with leg problems is bad enough; a guy with a weight problem and leg problems is even worse.
7 Sam Bradford
Despite suffering two ACL injuries as a member of the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams, Bradford is probably the healthiest guy on this list. It looked like his career was in shambles before being traded to the Minnesota Vikings after failing miserably with the Philadelphia Eagles. Bradford's ineptitude was well hidden by a great team start and an elite defense run by head coach Mike Zimmer that made it unnecessary to score a ton of points
6 Dion Lewis
The only reason we're talking about Lewis is because of what he did in a short period of time for the New England Patriots. In 2015, Lewis averaged 4.8 yards per carry and totaled 622 yards from scrimmage in just seven games. Lewis was a beast for the Pats and Tom Brady had the ideal pass-catching back that was also explosive enough to break big runs.
5 David Johnson
Johnson is arguably the best running back in the NFL this season and he's healthy as an ox, so why exactly is he on this list? Well, for starters he's a running back and those who play the position generally don't last very long. We all know about the dreaded 30, when running backs normally drop off a cliff in production and/or health.
4 Ezekiel Elliott
Another star running back in the NFL, Elliott is wasting no time becoming an absolute stud at his position. Barring an injury, Elliott will undoubtedly be among the league leaders in rushing yards and attempts, which is pretty rare for a rookie tailback. The Dallas Cowboys are riding Elliott because of a great offensive line and continued production; although drafting him no. 4 overall also has a lot to do with that.
3 Josh Huff
Things have gone from great for Huff as a former 2014 third-round pick, to very bad after getting arrested during the 2016 season. The Philadelphia Eagles receiver and return man was pulled over and arrested for speeding while also being in possession of marijuana and a gun. Not only could he face criminal charges, but Huff will also face discipline from the league for his infraction.
2 Knile Davis
Remember when Knile Davis was a thing? If not, it happened in 2014 during a three-week span that saw Davis compile 356 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns, leading many to believe the Kansas City Chiefs were sitting on a gold mine of an asset in their backup running back. Davis was never able to duplicate that kind of production again, proving he was merely a fluke.
1 Keenan Allen
If not for two devastating injuries in the past two seasons, Allen would have likely risen to the top of the list of elite receivers in the NFL. The San Diego Chargers receiver is now hoping he'll simply be able to make it onto a football field again. Allen has now suffered two major knee injuries since college after suffering a torn ACL in 2016, and he was forced to miss eight games with a lacerated kidney in 2015.
Allen's future in the league is in serious doubt, and while players can come back from multiple major knee surgeries, the chances of Allen ever being the same are slim. The 24-year-old will be lucky to make it another half decade and his hopes of having a long career are all but over.
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