The lucky ones get to retire of their own volition.
Some are forced out the door, no longer in a club's plans. Then there's those whose body fails them, injury ultimately having the final say.
Carlton's Matthew Kreuzer falls into that last category.
The injury curse restricted the former No.1 draft pick, now 31 and in his 13th season, to 189 AFL games.
He played in round one and was in strong form before his latest injury - a broken foot - forced him to the sidelines again.
Carlton had hoped the influential ruckman would return given the AFL waded through a three-month coronavirus suspension. But the latest setback proved one hurdle too many.
Kreuzer called time on his career on Thursday; his injury list featuring ACL, foot, ankle, concussion and heart problems.
There is no doubt Carlton was better when Kreuzer was on the field.
Unassuming off it, the man affectionately known as 'Humphrey' made his teammates stand taller on it.
Sadly for Blues fans those efforts were punctuated by regular stints on the sidelines. Now Kreuzer has decided to remain a spectator.
He'll be content knowing his ruck replacements - Marc Pittonet and Tom De Koning - look capable of picking up where he left off.
THE FOOTY NEWS YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO MISS:
- ALEX FAIR:Apologetic players helping to define year
- JUSTINE McCULLAGH-BEASY: Power midfielder ready to repay club's faith
- HOWARD KOTTON: Fans ignored in AFL's move to a night grand final
- SEAN HARDEMAN: Now is the perfect timing to pick ideal AFL quarter length
- ROHAN CONNOLLY: Can Port Adelaide break an unlikely AFL premiership hoodoo?
- NICK ANSELL: Suns forward soaking up life's simple pleasures
- ADAM BOURKE: Kangaroo debuts, looks to game two
- JUSTIN CHADWICK: Cat Selwood to miss Tigers blockbuster
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
- St Kilda v West Coast, Gabba, 7.10pm
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
- Geelong v Richmond, Metricon Stadium, 7.50pm
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
- North Melbourne v Fremantle, Metricon Stadium, 2.10pm
- Port Adelaide v Essendon, Adelaide Oval, 5.05pm
- GWS Giants v Melbourne, Gabba, 7.40pm
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
- Carlton v Adelaide, Metricon Stadium, 1.05pm
- Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs, Adelaide Oval, 3.35pm
- Sydney v Brisbane, Cazaly's Stadium, 6.10pm
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
- Collingwood v Gold Coast Suns, Gabba, 7.10pm