If there's one thing that is certain in the NFL, it's that you retire young. There aren't many other industries out there in which one peaks in his mid-20s and the average career is only 3.2 years. At 33, Ryan has overcome the odds but he's staring forced retirement in the face because of his age (even though he's completely healthy and ready to play). Since an NFL career can be measured in dog years, at Ryan's age, there just aren't many teams willing to even take a look at him because there is always someone younger and cheaper who can do his job.
It's bad enough that Ryan didn't get signed last year during the offseason - strike one. Strike two came when Ryan didn't get picked up during the season, even with tight ends going down with injuries left and right. And now, with spring camps starting and there seemingly being no interest from ANY NFL teams, Ryan may be at the end of the road - strike three.
He was reminded of that today when he got a big fat envelope in the mail from the NFL players association filled with information about the upcoming retired players convention and a two-year complimentary membership to the NFLPA's retired players club. See, here's the problem with that - Ryan's not officially retired. He hasn't turned in any paperwork or expressed a desire to retire. It's just assumed once a player hasn't been on a roster for over a year. I can't imagine what that must do to a player's psyche, especially when he's not ready to give up the game he loves yet.