Meredith, Lilly, Staubach, Aikman they all hit me hard when they retired. I felt like all 4 could have and should have kept playing. Lilly was really the only one who physically couldn't perform like he had earlier in his career but he was my first Cowboy hero and I NEVER wanted him to retire.
Meredith was only 31 when he left the game and had just had his best season (but his worst playoff game). I hated seeing him go as I never thought Morton was capable of winning for us and was awful in big games.
Staubach was 38 but had only played 11 years and really only 8 full seasons but concussions were taking a toll on him and he didn't feel like he should play any longer. This was way before anyone knew about the long term effects of concussions on players. Fortunately, it never appeared to cause him any problems. He also retired at the top of his game, having just had his best season.
Like Roger, concussions forced Aikman to retire before he needed to but could have played another 3-4 years easily. He wanted to continue but the opportunities to start were not available so he chose retirement rather than a backup role.
I would add Harvey Martin to the list as well. Only 33 when he retired but he was slowing down in his final season. Still thought he could play though.
Captain Nathan Brittles: "Only the man who commands can be blamed. It rests on me... mission failure!"
"Jerry Jones is a billionaire fan who bought his own team for the express purpose of buying his way into the game. He wants to hang out with the players, stand in front of the cameras, be the face of the team (yech), make personnel moves as if this were a video game, and more than anything else, be seen as the guy who made it all happen."