Yesterday, BSports brought you the top five NBA players who shined early on in their careers, but were unfortunately hampered by injuries that cut short their time on the court. In this latest installment, we bring you the top five NFL stars to suffer injuries that kept them from living up to their full potential.
As the first athlete to make an all-star team for two different sports, Bo Jackson’s athletic abilities were unparalleled. During his four years with the Los Angeles Raiders, Jackson compiled 2782 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. Unfortunately, Jackson was on the receiving end of a huge tackle when playing the Cincinnati Bengals during the 1991 playoffs, resulting in a severe hip injury that ended his football career.
After a stellar collegiate career, Earl Campbell came into the NFL with incredibly high hopes, being selected as the first overall draft pick for the Houston Oilers. In his rookie season, he rushed for 1,450 yards, which led the league for rushing. He continued to lead the league in rushing in both 1979 and 1980. He played in five Pro Bowls and in 1980, his best year in the NFL, he rushed for 1,934 yards. However, Campbell suffered from chronic knee and back problems from the game, forcing him to retire during the preseason of 1986.
Tony Boselli was the very first draft pick ever for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995, making him one of the most popular players in the franchise. He made the Pro Bowl five times during his career and could have been the best tackle of all time if he were able to stay healthy and play for a full career. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2001, and was forced to retire in 2002 after only eight seasons.
The Chicago Bears have a rich history of running backs, but one of the best they ever saw was Gayle Sayers. Sayers went to four Pro Bowls during his career and was a two time NFL rushing champion in 1966 and 1969. The future Hall of Famer had 4,956 yards and 39 touchdowns in his career. Halfway through 1968, he tore ligaments in his right knee and was out for the rest of the season but was able to come back the next year and continue to dominate. In 1970, Sayers suffered a second knee injury that he could not come back from, and retired during the 1972 preseason.
Sterling Sharpe proved that he was one of the best young players to ever play on a football field when he broke into the league during his rookie season. He was the fastest to reach 500 receptions, which he did at the beginning of his seventh and final season, and was also the first player to catch 100-plus passes in consecutive seasons. This five-time Pro Bowler is a Packers legend, but had to retire after suffering a neck injury. With Brett Favre just beginning his career while Sharpe was in the middle of his, it’s not hard to think that Sharpe could have been one of the all-time greatest receivers if he had a few more seasons catching passes from the quarterback legend.