It takes years of hard work to get to the NFL. Most players' careers start even before they get into high school. They build upon a lifetime of mental and physical preparation just in the hopes that they’ll be able to make a name for themselves and get noticed by a good college. From there, they must somehow distinguish themselves from the best collegiate athletes in the country. Then, and only then, can they even have a hair of a chance of making an NFL roster. The good news is that if they somehow make it to that point, then surely everyone will remember their names.
Only, that isn’t always the case. There are some NFL players who make it to the big show, make a name for themselves, and still manage to become overlooked even while they are still active players. How, exactly, that happens can be attributed to a few things. Most of the time, you can chalk it up to a decrease in performance or a move to a smaller market team. Sometimes, however, a player manages to stay in the league for so long that fans simply can’t believe it. Whatever the reason, these are the 15 NFL players that you didn’t realize were still active.
15 Shaun Hill
14 Vince Wilfork
If you played for the Patriots during the early days of Brady/Belichick regime, you kind of had to accept the fact that you were not going to necessarily become a household name. Very few players on those teams not named Tom Brady managed to achieve personal fame and Vince Wilfork was certainly one of them. The physically imposing nose tackle proved to be the anchor for the Patriots “bend but don’t break” defense. He, along with Tedy Bruschi, gave the Patriots’ defensive unit a real identity and the kind of talent that Tom Brady’s offense needed to always be in contention.
13 Shane Lechler
12 Ziggy Hood
11 Julius Peppers
10 Anquan Boldin
9 Glenn Dorsey
Glenn Dorsey is similar to Ziggy Hood in that both players were fairly highly touted defensive juggernauts who were expected to immediately contribute to whatever team they found themselves on. The biggest difference between the two is that Dorsey was taken number five overall in the 2008 draft. Simply put, Dorsey never really played at his expected level as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. He occasionally put up some respectable tackle numbers, but he seemed to have lost his ability to get to the quarterback.
8 John Kuhn
Once upon a time when the Earth was still young, NFL teams across the land valued an offensive position known as the fullback. While the fullback was capable of running the ball when called upon, their primary job was to lead the way for the running back and serve as a full-force blocker. These days, sighting a fullback during a game is like seeing the Loch Ness Monster. One exception to this rule is the great John Kuhn.
7 Mario Williams
6 Adam Vinatieri
5 Karlos Dansby
4 Chad Henne
3 Terence Newman
2 Chris Johnson
In 2009, Chris Johnson shocked the football world by going off for 2,006 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. In that moment, the controversial and charismatic figure known as “CJ2K” was born. Johnson rightfully considered himself to be the NFL’s elite running back after his career year. Those that watched him at his best found it hard to disagree. Still, Johnson was never able to quite match his best year ever again. His output was still pretty great, but Johnson’s off-the-field issues eventually inspired the Titans to waive goodbye to the freakishly good running back in 2013.
1 Reggie Bush
There has never been a college athlete quite like Reggie Bush. Bush wasn’t just one of the elite college running backs of his time who once averaged 8.7 yards a carry during his Junior year, he was the kind of player that was capable of performing highlight reel plays from nearly every position on the field. Many had him pegged as a consensus number one overall pick, but instead, he ended going to New Orleans with the number two pick. Sadly, Bush never managed to recreate his brilliant college play as a member of the Saints. Bush became a high-value utility player who New Orleans was willing to get rid of following a forgetful 2010 season.
Bush then went on to have some of his best NFL years as a running back for the Dolphins, but still couldn’t hold a starting job. As a Buffalo Bill in 2016, Bush accumulated -3 rushing yards for the season.
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