NFL Players Who Came Out Of Retirement

List Rules
Vote up the best NFL players to make a comeback.

Who is the best NFL player to ever come out of retirement? These athletes who came out of retirement were among the best NFL players in their heydays. For that reason, after stepping away from the game momentarily, that fire burning inside these retired athletes' guts simply wouldn't let these NFL legends quit. Over the years, plenty of NFL stars have retired only to change their minds shortly after, including some of the best NFL players of all time. Who is the best NFL player to come out of retirement? Which NFL players had the best comeback careers? 

Most recently, one the best players in the NFL right now, superstar quarterback Tom Brady returned to the game after a very brief hiatus. Only a couple years before Brady, his longtime teammate Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to lace them up once more and helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV. NFL greats like Jason Witten, Marshawn Lynch and Eric Weddle have all made comeback attempts in the past few years as well, with Weddle winning Super Bowl LVI as a member of the Los Angeles Rams in 2022.

Vote up the best NFL players who came out of retirement.


  • 1
    124 votes

    Original career: 1998–2010

    Time Spent Retired: 5 months

     Second career stint: 2012

    Randy Gene Moss (born February 13, 1977) is a television sports analyst and former American football wide receiver who played 14 seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He holds the NFL single-season touchdown reception record (23 in 2007), the NFL single-season touchdown reception record for a rookie (17 in 1998), and is second on the NFL all-time regular season touchdown reception list with 156. He currently works for ESPN as a studio analyst for their Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown programs. Moss played college football for Marshall University, and twice earned All-America honors. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft, ...more
    • Position: Wide receiver
    • Birthplace: Rand, West Virginia
    • Teams: Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings
  • 2
    152 votes

    Original career: 2000-2021

    Time Spent Retired: 40 days

     Second career stint: 2022

    Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. (born August 3, 1977) is a former American football quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League (NFL). After playing college football for the University of Michigan, Brady was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, and went on to become the team's starting quarterback in his second season after an injury to QB Drew Bledsoe. Due to his late selection, Brady is considered the biggest "steal" in the history of the NFL Draft. Brady has played in ten Super Bowls, winning seven of them, the most of any player in NFL history. Brady has won five Super Bowl MVP awards (Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX, LI, and ...more
    • Position: Quarterback
    • Birthplace: San Mateo, California
    • Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots
  • Rob Gronkowski
    Photo: Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Instagram
    117 votes

    Original career: 2010–2018

    Time Spent Retired: 18 months

     Second career stint: 2020 - 2022

    Robert James Gronkowski (born May 14, 1989), nicknamed "Gronk" is a former American football tight end who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 11 seasons. Gronkowski played nine seasons for the New England Patriots, then played his final two seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is a four-time Super Bowl champion (XLIX, LI, LIII, LV), a five-time Pro Bowl selection, a four-time First Team All-Pro selection, and was selected in the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. Gronkowski played college football at the University of Arizona, winning several awards, including being named a Sporting News and Freshman All-American. Despite playing ...more
    • Position: Tight end
    • Birthplace: Amherst, New York
    • Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots
  • Marshawn Lynch
    Photo: Mat Hayward / Getty Images

    Original career: 2007–2015

    Time Spent Retired: 14 months

     Second career stint: 2017–2019

    Marshawn Terrell Lynch (born April 22, 1986) is a former American football running back. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft after playing college football at the University of California, Berkeley, where he became the school's second all-time career rusher.After three seasons with the Bills, Lynch was traded to the Seattle Seahawks mid-way through the 2010 season. With Seattle, he made four Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos. After initially retiring after the 2015 season, Lynch applied for reinstatement and was traded to the Oakland Raiders in April 2017, with whom he played two seasons before retiring again. Lynch ...more
    • Position: Running back
    • Birthplace: Oakland, California
    • Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Reggie White
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    78 votes

    Original career: 1984–1998

    Time Spent Retired: 1 year

     Second career stint: 2000

    Reginald Howard White (December 19, 1961 – December 26, 2004) was an American professional football player who played defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. He played college football for the University of Tennessee, and was recognized as an All-American. After playing two professional seasons for the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League (USFL), he was selected in the first round of the 1984 Supplemental Draft, and then played for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, and Carolina Panthers, becoming one of the most awarded players in NFL history. The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 13-time Pro ...more
    • Position: Defensive tackle, Defensive end
    • Birthplace: Chattanooga, Tennessee
    • Teams: Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Deion Sanders
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
    98 votes

    Original career: 1989–2000

    Time Spent Retired: 3 years

     Second career stint: 2004–2005

    Deion Luwynn Sanders Sr. (born August 9, 1967), nicknamed "Prime Time" and "Neon Deion", is a retired American football player, baseball player and sports analyst who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 14 seasons. During his football career, he was a member of the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and the Baltimore Ravens. He also had a part-time career as a baseball outfielder for nine seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), where he played professionally for the New York Yankees, the Atlanta Braves, the Cincinnati Reds, and the San Francisco Giants. Sanders won two Super Bowl titles and made one World Series appearance in 1992, ...more
    • Position: Cornerback
    • Birthplace: Fort Myers, Florida
    • Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers