As time goes on it is inevitable that we start to forget about NFL players who have long retired and moved on in their lives. Some of them try to stay in the spotlight while others simply wanted to find happiness in their life. Some of them want to be forgotten and left to live out their dreams in retirement.
Regardless of how it happens, once retired most NFL players are forgotten as new young talent enters the league each year. This blog is not about the young bucks, but dedicated to NFL players who are slowly being forgotten.
Nobody is ever going to forget the icons of the game like Joe Montana, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, etc… However those who are borderline Hall of Famers or just one rung below, who flew under the radar may very well not be remembered by many now, or in a decade from now.
We could not fit everyone deserving on this list and would love to here your thoughts on NFL players that you forgot about in the comments below.
15. Ronde & Tiki Barber
Who remembers one of the top 10 most famous identical twins? Well, not many of us are talking about either of the twins these days. When these two were in the league they were dynamic and both had excellent careers.
Ronde played much longer than Tiki retiring back in 2013 while Tiki decided to retire in his prime after the 2006 season. Looking back on it I am still surprised he retired so early especially after running for over 1,800 and 1,500 yards the last two seasons of his career.
Hopefully this post helps to keep the “Barber Boys” remembered a bit longer, because they both had great NFL careers.
14. Zach Thomas
Thomas was a beast linebacker throughout his career and was a tackling machine. He was never really in the limelight though and that may have contributed to him making our list. He played quietly and consistently establishing himself as one of the best backers during his career.
If you are a Miami Dolphins fan you probably have not forgotten about Thomas though as he was beloved during his playing days and still makes appearances to help out the Dolphins current players.
13. Jake Plummer
Plummer retired sooner than he probably should have just like Tiki Barber. To make things worse for Plummer, his last game in the league was definitely one to forget as his last pass of his career was an interception on a bad throw. Not to mention he was not happy with his coach and had no problem displaying it.
He decided to retire because he just wasn’t happy and wanted to spend more time with his family while finding true happiness. The death of his good friend Pat Tillman is said to have played a significant role in his retirement and pursuit of happiness. (Understandable)
These days he is playing a lot of handball with his friends and spending a lot of time with his family doing exactly what he planned to do. He also drinks a lot of beer and is just having fun with his life.
Handball and beer over football huh? No wonder you made our list Jake..but I completely respect your decision. Keep enjoying life and having fun!
12. Jeremy Shockey
Where do I begin?
Shockey had a very promising career that was cut short because of injuries and personality issues. One constant for Shockey is the ability to irritate and annoy the life out of his team. That is probably why most choose to forget about Shockey despite his best efforts to continue his antics after retirement.
These days Shockey can be seen bashing players and teams on social media for no reason so he can get back in the spotlight. Maybe he just really needs a hug. Will someone out there please hug this guy so he can stop trolling players on social media?
11. Ricky Williams
Williams had an interesting career to say the least, but he is on the list of forgotten NFL players because of his sudden retirement. He made the 10,000 yards mark and was out the next season even though he definitely had some gas left in the tank.
Although us NFL fans may have forgotten about Williams he is making a significant impact on many lives these days and creating life long memories for many young students and athletes. Williams is a self-help teacher and massage therapist because he enjoys helping others which is a commendable “after football” mission.
He has come a long way from the rough years in his career and is quietly making a difference.
10. Daunte Culpepper
Culpepper is mainly remembered thanks to his two awesome receivers Chris Carter and Randy Moss during their primes. Culpepper had one amazing season in 2004 where he threw for nearly 5,000 yards, 39 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions, but suffered an awful knee injury and fell off after that.
That is why he made the list of forgotten NFL players. He consistently played worse and worse after his standout season which rapidly led to forgotten memories of that potent Vikings offense.
Although his attempted bar business failed and he lost one of his Florida homes recently, Culpepper seems to be doing fine and enjoying his life and family these days.
9. Brian Westbrook
Westbrook had a very up-and-down career which ended with a few forgettable years before his retirement. Injuries were a big part of his back and forth career and contributed to keeping him out of the 10,000 rushing yards club. All the concussions and inconsistent games toward the end of his career helped land him on our list.
He had two excellent seasons compiling over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and showing his true talent as not just a running back, but a receiving back as well thanks to his dynamic skill set.
That was quite a while back though and most people (especially the tough Philly fans) have simply forgotten Brian Westbrook. Apparently Google has too because nearly all the search results I found were for Russell Westbrook.
8. Antonio Freeman
I know every single Packers fan has not forgotten Freeman and probably will not ever forget about his contributions to the team. He had a short, but effective career which resulted with a Super Bowl.
However, most non-Packer fans have forgotten Freeman who retired over 10 years ago and has not made any big splashes since. His last couple of years in the league were definitely forgettable as well which led to his spot on our list.
7. Dorsey Levens
We are going to stick with old forgotten Packers for our next player and go with Dorsey Levens. Like Freeman, Levens will probably not be forgotten by the Packer faithful, but to the rest of the football world his 2 good seasons were not enough to keep him off of this list.
Out of his 11 year NFL career Levens played well during the years that mattered and helped the Packers to a Super Bowl with Freeman and Brett Favre over the Patriots back in 1996 along with a Super Bowl loss to the Broncos in 1997.
These days Levens is making the most of his retirement time and his most recent project is a documentary on concussions in the NFL.
6. Rich Gannon
Rich Gannon went out of the NFL as most players do with a couple forgettable years and had an extremely inconsistent career.
His best years were with the Oakland Raiders from 1997 to 2002 when he played as an elite quarterback and led the Raiders to a Super Bowl loss that would go down as one of the most lopsided losses in Super Bowl history.
Injuries and inconsistency landed Gannon on our list, but he has been making a career as an analyst on TV these days and has even been asked about taking coaching jobs.
Time will tell how that goes, but he is a great football analyst and we hope he continues to improve his career after football.
5. John Lynch
Lynch had an awesome career and was a great whether on or off the football field. Buccaneers fans will never forget Lynch as he played nearly his entire career in Tampa, but other than that most people mention Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu or even Brian Dawkins rather than Lynch.
Maybe it is because Lynch has been out of the game longer, but regardless he made our list of forgotten NFL players.
Lynch is steadily becoming a veteran TV analyst for Fox and has been moving up the ranks consistently over the past five years since his retirement. People may have forgotten about him as a football player, but as an analyst on TV we will all be reminded of his tough style of play from time to time.
4. Torry Holt
Holt had an incredible career and made a large number of quarterbacks look better than they actually were. Had he been able to play with an elite quarterback his entire career he would have even better career stats and probably another Super Bowl or two.
Although remembered as part of the “greatest show on turf” from his days with Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, it has been over 10 years and the memories are starting to fade and be replaced by current NFL studs.
Did you know he owns a construction company called Holt Brothers Construction?
3. Jamal Lewis
Lewis had a great career and is one of the few running backs to gain over 2,000 yards in a season in NFL history. He won a Super Bowl with the Ravens (although he was not active at the time) and has most recently come into the spotlight for selling his Super Bowl ring.
It is a genuine reminder of how hard times manage to reach super star professional athletes after their careers.
Unfortunately for Lewis, he is in that position and has become an easily forgotten NFL player who does not even have his Super Bowl ring to help himself remember the good ol’ days.
2. Ed McCaffrey
Some of the younger people may not even know who McCaffrey is, but he played a crucial role alongside Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe, Terrell Davis and John Elway during their consecutive Super Bowl wins in 1997 and 1998.
His career stats are not amazing and besides his three great seasons with the Broncos he was really a mediocre receiver who knew his role and made plays when needed.
McCaffrey’s son Christian is making quite the splash in college football these days and has recently drawn some attention to old man McCaffrey. But for now, he is on our list of forgotten NFL players and almost made number one.
1. Edgerrin James
James had an awesome NFL career and has continued to excel outside of football. Many may not know much about James other than the fact that he was an excellent football player who played with Peyton Manning and was a big part of the Colts success.
You may not know that the Colts appreciated James so much they gave him a Super Bowl ring even though he was not on the team the year they won. Peyton Manning has gone on record saying James was the best teammate he ever played with.
James lost his wife back in 2009 and has since dedicated his life to his three children, helping other children and making a significant difference in the world without seeking recognition or the spotlight.
He is number one on our list because of everyone on the list he is quietly making the biggest difference in a majorly positive way. Although he may not want to be in the spotlight, he deserves to not be forgotten and we hope this post shined some light on his incredible life after football.
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