Athletes Who Waited Too Long To Retire People In Sports
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2  reranks 13,627 votes 1,999 voters 56,934 views more info

Athletes Who Waited Too Long To Retire

List Criteria: Athletes who retired too late

Athletes who waited too long to retire for one reason or another made the choice to continue playing, sometimes for several years, when really they should have hung 'em up. These football, basketball, baseball and hockey players, along with fighters, were once at the top of their respective sports but couldn't stop while they were ahead. Instead they played into their 40s, 50s and sometimes 60s, and sometimes hurt their teams in the process of their denial.

Arguably, this list contains some of the best athletes to ever play in their respective sports. Professional basketball player Michael Jordan, hockey player Gordie Howe and boxer Muhammad Ali all are regarded as some of the best ever but sadly they also come in as athletes who played well past their prime. Instead of stopping when they started to decline, they continued to compete and a small part of their legacy suffered because of it.

Perhaps the most erroneous case of not knowing when to stop is former National Football League quarterback Brett Favre. Number four played atop the league for 17 seasons, mainly with the Green Bay Packers, before retiring after the 2007 season. What followed was what was called the annual Brett Favre unretirement, a process that lasted THREE YEARS. In 2008 he played (poorly) for the New York Jets, then he retired again. A few months later he returned to the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings for the 2009 campaign. Lather, rinse and repeat again in 2010. Spoiler: None of those final seasons led to a Super Bowl victory.

Athletes on this list prove that just because you are great at what you do does not mean you can do it forever. We feel bad for those athletes whose careers ended too soon due to circumstances out of their control but we certainly have much less love for those who refused to retire when clearly they were old and washed up. Coaches (*cough* Joe Paterno *cough*) take note too, this applies to you as well.
List is ranked by a combination of each item's votes & positioning in reranks
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  1. 1
    Up 474
    Down 165
    1942 More
    99
  2. 2
    Up 430
    Down 226

    ranked high on reranks
    Shaquille O'Neal

    1972 More
    90
  3. 3
    Up 902
    Down 242

    ranked low on reranks
    Brett Favre

    1969 More
    89
  4. 4
    Up 397
    Down 181
    1966 More
    86
  5. 5
    Up 477
    Down 134
    1962 More
    82
  6. 6
    Up 292
    Down 94
    1949 More
    82
    added by: UnclScrewtape
    1949
  7. 7
    Up 31
    Down 35

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Rickey Henderson

    1958 More
    70
    added by: KirkSaw
  8. 8
    Up 247
    Down 178
    1973 More
    68
    added by: PhilMortenson
  9. 9
    Up 269
    Down 226
    1964 More
    67
    added by: AdamKoalaSchoenberg
  10. 10
    Up 360
    Down 212
    1975 More
    66
  11. 11
    Up 300
    Down 172
    1969 More
    65
  12. 12
    Up 39
    Down 34

    most listed
    Patrick Ewing

    1962 More
    65
    added by: KirkSaw
  13. 13
    Up 38
    Down 33
    1956 More
    62
    added by: dwayne.blankenship
  14. 14
    Up 16
    Down 15
    1979 More
    60
    added by: wiabux
  15. 15
    Up 61
    Down 97
    1939 More
    59
    added by: blanktape4_18min
  16. 16
    Up 75
    Down 95
    1952 More
    59
    added by: blanktape4_18min
  17. 17
    Up 23
    Down 32
    1972 More
    59
    added by: KirkSaw
  18. 18
    Up 183
    Down 262
    1967 More
    58
  19. 19
    Up 249
    Down 360
    1963 More
    58
  20. 20
    Up 90
    Down 82

    ranked low on reranks
    Steve Carlton

    1944 More
    58
    added by: bene
  21. 21
    Up 26
    Down 43
    1956 More
    58
    added by: KirkSaw
  22. 22
    Up 94
    Down 140
    1973 More
    57
    added by: UnclScrewtape
  23. 23
    Up 25
    Down 35
    1931 More
    56
    added by: KirkSaw
  24. 24
    Up 105
    Down 186

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Randy Moss

    1977 More
    55
    added by: Joshballinhard12
  25. 25
    Up 229
    Down 220

    ranked low on reranks
    O. J. Simpson

    1947 More
    53
  26. 26
    Up 37
    Down 97

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Andy Roddick

    1982 More
    53
    added by: blanktape4_18min
  27. 27
    Up 133
    Down 135
    1957 More
    50
    added by: UnclScrewtape
  28. 28
    Up 33
    Down 18
    1953 More
    49
    added by: Dark Orion
  29. 29
    Up 21
    Down 7
    1975 More
    48
    added by: KXB13
  30. 30
    Up 167
    Down 202
    1933 More
    47
  31. 31
    Up 25
    Down 16

    Ric Flair

    47
    added by: Dark Orion
  32. 32
    Up 201
    Down 255
    1949 More
    46
  33. 33
    Up 16
    Down 10
    1903 More
    45
    added by: RodneyBlair
  34. 34
    Up 21
    Down 20
    1958 More
    44
    added by: KirkSaw
  35. 35
    Up 18
    Down 16
    1938 More
    44
    added by: KirkSaw
  36. 36
    Up 20
    Down 19
    1973 More
    44
    added by: RodneyBlair
  37. 37
    Up 13
    Down 10
    1941 More
    44
    added by: Dave_7672
  38. 38
    Up 10
    Down 7
    1958 More
    44
    added by: KXB13
  39. 39
    Up 15
    Down 14
    1974 More
    44
    added by: RodneyBlair
  40. 40
    Up 11
    Down 9
    1963 More
    44
    added by: KXB13
  41. 41
    Up 13
    Down 12
    1848 More
    44
    added by: RodneyBlair
    If Grace retired in 1880,aged 32,he would have averaged 50 with the bat when it was hard to ... more
  42. 42
    Up 193
    Down 272
    1969 More
    44
  43. 43
    Up 17
    Down 19
    1951 More
    43
    added by: KirkSaw
  44. 44
    Up 2
    Down 1
    1914 More
    43
    added by: omh755
  45. 45
    Up 16
    Down 19
    1943 More
    43
    added by: KirkSaw
  46. 46
    Up 12
    Down 14
    1955 More
    43
    added by: RodneyBlair
  47. 47
    Up 6
    Down 6

    scott scherer

    43
  48. 48
    Up 21
    Down 29
    1963 More
    42
    added by: KirkSaw
  49. 49
    Up 21
    Down 29
    1895 More
    42
    added by: KirkSaw
  50. 50
    Up 10
    Down 17

    Rico Carty

    1939 More
    41
    added by: KirkSaw
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