Unlike the previous players on this list, there was no gutwrenching season of clarity for Dwight Stephenson. It all came to a conclusion after the1987 season.
Drafted in 1980, Stephenson only played eight seasons in the NFL, all with Miami. In his first three seasons, Stephenson didn’t make any Pro Bowl rosters or get the accolades he would in year four. From 1983 to his final year in 1987, Stephenson made the Pro Bowl every season.
Over his career, he started only 87 of 114 games and that really says a lot about how good he was. He made the Pro Football Hall of Fame on those numbers and was voted as one of the top 100 players in NFL history as well as one of the top centers to ever play the game.
In his final season of 1987, Stephenson played in only nine games but he still made the Pro Bowl roster. Instead of getting healthy and returning to the field for another go in ’88, Stephenson opted to take care of his body and walk away.
For him, it was the right time. He would later tell us at a meet and greet that his body would take a little while to recover. He had no regrets of leaving the game when he did but he did miss it.