Terrell Davis – Retired at 29 in 2001
Another career characterized by a meteoric rise, and a sudden crash. After being picked in the sixth round of the 1995 NFL Draft, Terrell Davis shot up the Broncos depth chart during the preseason, and eventually won the starting job. Davis rewarded the organization by rushing for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns in his rookie year. And that was just a minor glimpse into what he was capable of.
Over the next three seasons, he rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns in each season. His 1,750 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns in 1997 and 2,008 yards and 21 touchdowns rushing in 1998 propelled the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowl victories. Davis was named Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl 32 (the Broncos first Super Bowl victory), after rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns. But in the Broncos fourth game of the 1999 season, Davis tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee, causing him to miss the rest of the season.
In 2000, he missed 11 more games due to injury, and then only played in 8 games during the 2001 season after getting surgery on both knees. Even when he was healthy enough to play during the 2000 and 2001 seasons, he was nowhere near the same player. Davis retired in 2002, leaving so many questions about what he could’ve accomplished if he hadn’t gotten injured.