Jake Plummer retired from the NFL after the 2006 season. The 32 year old Plummer earned Pro Bowl honors in 2005, started 136 of his 143 career regular season games in 10 years and left a $5.3 million/year contract on the table. Most people would find it incomprehensible to turn down that much money and the elevated status that goes along with being an NFL quarterback but Plummer has no regrets. Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard explains that Plummer's decision was at least partially inspired by the way that Plummer's college/NFL teammate Pat Tillman retired from the NFL to volunteer for military service. Tillman eventually was killed by "friendly fire" in Afghanistan; this is what Plummer said at Tillman's funeral:
"I was in the store the other day and I saw PEOPLE magazine, and it had the cover of the 50 most beautiful people in the world, or America, and there was a picture of Pat. It was kind of ironic because I really looked and said, What is beauty? Is beauty a pretty face, a nice smile, flowing hair, nice skin? Not to me, it's not. To me beauty is living life to higher standards, stronger morals and ethics and believing in them, whether people tell you you're right or wrong. Beauty is not wasting a day. Beauty is noticing life's little intricacies and taking time out of your busy day to really enjoy those little intricacies. Beauty is being real, being genuine, being pure with no facade—what you see is what you get. Beauty is expanding your mind, always seeking. I believe that to really honor Pat, we should all challenge ourselves. No more I'm going to do this or I'm going to do that. Do it. As Pat would say, probably, 'Get off your ass and do it.' Why, you ask, should we honor him this way? Because that's what Pat did his whole life."