Barry Sanders, RB Detroit Lions. I know and understand why he left but the NFL rushing record should be his, he deserved it. He was a great shape as well and could have played for another 3 or 4 years. One of the most electrifying players to step out onto the field. And one of the most humble, a rarity in the NFL.
This was the one that immediately came to mind, it does suck that Detroit refused to deal him or surround him with a supporting cast but he was amazing. Its basically the same thing Cincy is doing with Carson Palmer this year but he won't be missed as much. If I think back to players who had careers ended due to injury, we can go way back to Sandy Koufax who retired at 31 after one of the best pitching seasons ever (27-9 1.73 era) and I agree when I think of how big a Ken Griffey Jr fan I was growing up in wishing he would have stayed healthy all these years. It would have been nice if players such as Michael Jordan, Ted Williams and Mario Lemieux didn't have gaps in their playing careers either
“When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.” They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life." - author unknown