15 Athletes Who Should Have Stayed Retired

There comes a time when an athlete must come to terms with the fact that their body just can’t hack the physical demands any longer. In a way, it’s twisted. Here’s a person that is still relatively young, in terms of an average person’s life span, and are called “old” and forced to retire. Despite desperately wanting to remain in the game, they just have to eventually move on. Then we have those athletes that come out of retirement to give it another go. Maybe they love their respective sport that much to hang it up. Perhaps they retired too young and have unfinished business. Or, you could be a Tiki Barber type player who is broke and needs the cash. Unlike some athletes that won’t retire, like Ricky Henderson, it seems apparent to me that Barber made some horrible choices when he left the game, like leaving his pregnant wife for a 23 year old which made him broke and cost him that gig at NBC. Sure, there may be a handful of success stories of an athlete coming out of retirement to further their achievements, but overall, this isn’t Rocky Balboa. More times than not the comeback just makes them look like a shell of their form selves, like the following fifteen athletes.

15. Dave Cowens

Cowens spent ten years with the Boston Celtics from 1970-1980. During his tenure he became one of only four players, which also include Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett and Lebron James, to lead his team in all five major statistical categories for a season: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. His number 18 has even been retired by the Celtics. However, he decided to keep playing when he went to the Bucks during the 1982-1983 season. Thankfully his un-retirement was in Milwaukee, so must of his ignore that this actually happened.

14. Brett Favre

Let’s just get this one over with. He’s not on the list because of his on the field accomplishments, or lack of, but the circus that held the entire sports world hostage for three NFL off-seasons. He cried when he retired in Green Bay, came back with the Jets, got injured, retired again and then spent two interesting seasons in Minnesota. It was an amazing task that he took the Vikings to the NFC Championship, but after the 2010-2011 season, he proved that it’s always better to go out on top.

13. Dominik Hasek

No doubting that Hasek was one heck of a goaltender. He first contemplated retirement after the 1999 season, but he remained in Buffalo until the 2000-2001 season. He moved on to Detroit, and was still a great goalie. In 2007, he contemplated retiring again, only to be re-signed with the Red Wings after a stint in Ottawa. He actually won another Stanley Cup in the 2007-2008, as back-up to Chris Osgood, so he officially retired shortly after. A year later he came out of retirement to play for the Czech team HC Eaton Pardubice. Seriously, he’s like the Favre of hockey, but with less pics of his junk being sent to women who work for the team.

12. Lance Armstrong

Armstrong made cycling, yellow wristbands and cancer cool and popular foe the masses. After winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times, he wisely decided to call it quiets in 2005. He returned for the 2009 race, which he finished third, but dropped to twenty-third place the following year.

11. Roger Clemens

Clemens was supposed to end his legendary career in 2003. He came back and had several great seasons with the Astros. He retired yet again following Team USA’s loss in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, but pulled a Favre. His 2006 season with Houston was anything but what we’d expect from The Rocket. After more retirement speculation he returned once more, this time going back to the Yankees. He ended his career with with a record of 6–6 and a 4.18 ERA and is now enjoying his post-playing days facing steroid and adultery accusations.

10. Claude Lemieux

Claude Lemieux, who is not related to Super Mario, played in the NHL from 1983 to 2003. His post playing days were spent on such endeavors like appearing on Pros vs. Joes and the CBC television reality series Battle of the Blades, which features former hockey players teaming up with figure skaters. He opted for a comeback in 2008 by joining the China Sharks. He eventually made his way back to the NHL for the San Jose Sharks in 2009 and hung up the skates shortly after-wards.

9. Ryne Sandberg

The former Cubs player, and now Hall of Famer, had a remarkable career as a second baseman. After a slow start in 1994, he figured it was best to put his playing days behind him. Unfortunately, he went back on his word and returned during the 1996 and 1997 seasons, while not horrible seasons, they did feature his career lows at the plate and a career high in strikeouts.

8. Peter Forsberg

As for as hockey goes, Peter Forsberg pretty much accomplished every goal that a player can only dream of. After several seasons of nagging injuries, he announced that he would not return to the NHL during much of the 2007-2008 season, but returned to the Avalanche that season. He played the next two seasons with MODO, in his homeland Sweden, and hinted at retirement. In 2011 he once again returned to Colorado, but officially retired hours before his triumphant return to Denver’s Pepsi Arena.

7. Mark Spitz

From 1968 to 1972 Mark Spitz won nine Olympic gold medals and set 33 world records in swimming. Following his historic performance at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, he retired at age 22. Spitz came out of retirement in 1992, at the age of 41, and attempted to win a spot on the U.S. Swimming Team, but failed to qualify during the trials.

6. Ben Johnson

Sprinter Ben Johnson won Olympic Gold at the 1988 games and set records for the 100 meters during the 1987 World Championships of Athletics. Then it all came crumbling down. He was stripped of his Olympic medals for steroids shortly after his accomplishments. When he was allowed to compete again, in 1991, he failed to qualify for the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo. He did make the 1992 Canadian Olympic team, but finished last when the moment of truth came. A year later he was caught doping again and has now spent his years under the employment of Muammar al-Gaddafi and doing gimmicks like racing against a horse and a stock car, where he naturally finished third.

5. Bob Cousy

Cousy spent thirteen seasons with the Celtics from 1950 to 1963, but the aging 35 year old was slowing down statistically. His emotional farewell at the Boston Garden would have been an appropriate send off. The 41 year old returned to the court in 1970 to help boost sales for the Cincinnati Royals, who are currently the Sacramento Kings. Despite Cousy only scoring 5 points in 34 minutes of play time throughout seven games, ticket sales jumped up 77%.

4. Jim Palmer

The Orioles pitching legend made his first appearance on April 17, 1965 and easily became one of the greatest pitchers in MLB history. Following Baltimore’s World Series victory in 1983, he was released and subsequently retired. Palmer was easily inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990, but thought that he would give the majors one last shot by returning in 1991. During spring training he gave up five hits and two runs through two innings, which made him retire permanently. The funniest incident of this comeback was while he was training at the University of Miami. Hurricanes assistant coach Lazaro Collazo approached Palmer and stated, “You’ll never get into the Hall of Fame with those mechanics.” Palmer responded simply “I’m already in the Hall of Fame”.

3. Bjorn Borg

Arguably one of the best tennis players ever, which was why it was a shock when he retired at age 26 in 1983. Borg’s attempted comeback, with his wooden racket, is one of the saddest in sports history. From 1991 to 1993 he was defeated twelve consecutive times during the first round of ATP Tour events. He wisely retired again and plays on the senior circuit, with a modern rack.

2. Michael Jordan

MJ’s first comeback with the Bulls isn’t why he’s on the list, we can forgive him on that one. However, it was his stint as a Washington Wizard that makes him so highly ranked. While his 2001 season wasn’t terrible, it was filled with injuries and fans having to sadly witness what Air Jordan used to be. He officially retired in 2003 to the united cheers of every sports fan in the world.

1. Boxers

Despite my love for the Rocky films, Boxing is a sport that I’ll never truly grasp. It boggles my mind that guys would want to become human punching bags, but different strokes for different folks. However, what’s even more boggling is retired boxers attempting a comeback. It’s bad enough to watch a kid getting pounded in the head, but middle aged men not so much. Many legends, like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Sugar Ray Leonard have all attempted comebacks for humiliating results. The worst aspect of boxers trying to make a comeback is the fact that 45 year old George Foreman won the world championship in 1994, which means that ever since, many brain damaged boxers are thinking that they can do the same.

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