Great Athletes Who Waited Too Long To Retire People In Sports

Great Athletes Who Waited Too Long To Retire

originally by  29,578 votes 3,469 voters 83,020 views 67 items tags f p @

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 thrown in the towel. These football, basketball, baseball, and hockey players, along with fighters, were once at the top of their respective sports but couldn't quit 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 ever to play in their respective sports. Professional basketball player Michael Jordan, hockey player Gordie Howe, and boxer Muhammad Ali are all 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 also go sick of the athletes who refused to retire when they were old and washed up. 


List Photo: user uploaded image
  • 3 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • 2 See list ranked by
Z
G Options B Comments & Embed 2rerank list
  1. 1
    + 1593
    - 513


    age 46

    ;
  2. 2
    + 864
    - 346


    age 53

    ;
  3. 3
    + 918
    - 406


    age 73

    ;
  4. 4
    + 568
    - 269

    most listed & added by UnclScrewtape
    age 66 1949

    ;
  5. 5
    + 763
    - 410


    age 49

    ;
  6. 6
    + 823
    - 499


    age 43

    ;
  7. 7
    + 418
    - 195

    added by Dark Orion
    age 62

    ;
  8. 8
    + 596
    - 381


    age 46

    ;
  9. 9
    + 298
    - 157

    added by jaden-long
    age 37

    ;
  10. 10
    + 329
    - 182

    added by Dark Orion
    Ric Flair

  11. 11
    + 527
    - 458

    added by PhilMortenson
    age 42

    ;
  12. 12
    + 621
    - 538


    age 40

    ;
  13. 13
    + 512
    - 466

    added by AdamKoalaSchoenberg
    age 51

    ;
  14. 14
    + 218
    - 207

    added by KirkSaw
    age 53

    ;
  15. 15
    + 426
    - 430


    age 68

    ;
  16. 16
    + 192
    - 186

    added by dwayne.blankenship
    age 59

    ;
  17. 17
    + 374
    - 394


    age 66

    ;
  18. 18
    + 309
    - 329


    Died at 69 (1933-2002)

    ;
  19. 19
    + 109
    - 91

    added by omh755
    Died at 67 (1914-1981)

    ;
  20. 20
    + 226
    - 255

    added by UnclScrewtape
    age 58

    ;
  21. 21
    + 178
    - 195

    added by KXB13
    age 40

    ;
  22. 22
    + 174
    - 212

    added by bene
    age 71

    ;
  23. 23
    + 492
    - 642


    age 52

    ;
  24. 24
    + 342
    - 451


    age 48

    ;
  25. 25
    + 346
    - 439


    age 46

    ;
  26. 26
    + 68
    - 66

    added by IanHarvey
    age 46

    ;
  27. 27
    + 49
    - 48

    added by will-avila
    age 39

    ;
  28. 28
    + 125
    - 158

    added by KXB13
    age 52

    ;
  29. 29
    + 95
    - 118

    added by KirkSaw
    age 52

    ;
  30. 30
    + 130
    - 188

    added by KirkSaw
    age 43

    ;
  31. 31
    + 121
    - 157

    added by KirkSaw
    Died at 53 (1895-1948)

    ;
  32. 32
    + 72
    - 88

    added by NickGuthrie
    age 50

    ;
  33. 33
    + 111
    - 171

    added by KirkSaw
    age 57

    ;
  34. 34
    + 122
    - 182

    added by blanktape4_18min
    age 63

    ;
  35. 35
    + 69
    - 88

    added by KXB13
    age 57

    ;
  36. 36
    + 200
    - 303

    added by Joshballinhard12
    age 38

    ;
  37. 37
    + 86
    - 129

    added by KirkSaw
    Died at 64 (1931-1995)

    ;
  38. 38
    + 161
    - 223

    added by RobLein
    age 84

    ;
  39. 39
    + 37
    - 46

    added by Charlie FQ
    age 43

    ;
  40. 40
    + 132
    - 206

    added by UnclScrewtape
    age 42

    ;
  41. 41
    + 114
    - 179

    added by wiabux
    age 36

    ;
  42. 42
    + 47
    - 62

    added by jaysem1031
    age 47

    ;
  43. 43
    + 55
    - 74

    added by RodneyBlair
    Died at 62 (1903-1965)

    ;
  44. 44
    + 77
    - 107

    added by KirkSaw
    age 57

    ;
  45. 45
    + 60
    - 82

    added by RodneyBlair
    age 42

    ;
  46. 46
    + 100
    - 161

    added by KirkSaw
    age 59

    ;
  47. 47
    + 77
    - 109

    added by Dave_7672
    age 74

    ;
  48. 48
    + 18
    - 22

    added by IanHarvey
    Died at 85 (1915-2000)

    ;
  49. 49
    + 45
    - 63

    added by KirkSaw
    age 47

    ;
  50. 50
    + 33
    - 46

    added by KirkSaw
    age 76

    ;
68 +

Something missing? Add it!

L List Options 2 Rerank List B Comments & Embed z Share Next List >