Some retired LA Chargers players could still compete in 2020.
Of the big four sports, football is arguably the most unique in how long careers typically last. While you have your quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers that play close and into their 40s, you also have the players that have their careers cut short because of the physical toll.
In any other sport, an all-star-caliber player retiring before 35 in unheard of unless there is some sort of significant injury. In football, it just happens. Players at the top of the league quickly descend with age. Just look at LaDainian Tomlinson. He retired at 32.
We have seen players in other positions stand the test of time and even come out of retirement. Rob Gronkowski is the most notable recent example. After retiring young after winning Super Bowl LIII, Gronk is back a year later to join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.
Antonio Gates did the same thing as well. It looked like his career was all but over prior to the 2018 season but an injury to Hunter Henry led to the LA Chargers signing him to a one-year deal prior to the season.
And while Gates did not have a monster year, he had some huge catches that shifted games, such as his performance in Week 15 against Kansas City.
There are former Chargers who retired young and to this very day, if we removed any of the external reasons why they retired, could suit up and still compete at an NFL level similar to how Gates did in 2018 despite his age. We pinpointed five.