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56 voters

Athletes Who Retired In 2021

Updated October 5, 2021 777 votes 56 voters 1.9k views128 items

List RulesVote up the best athletes who announced their retirement in 2021.

Which are the best of the athletes who decided to retire in 2021? This list ranks the best athletes who announced their retirement in 2021. While some athletes planned on retiring in 2021, a few unfortunate ones had to retire due to injury or other personal matters. In many cases, there are famous players who have decided to move on and explore other avenues in life. Other times, recently retired athletes feel that they have made the most out of their careers and want to go out at the top of their game.

Sports stars who retired in 2021 include NFL QB Drew Brees and MLB second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Check this list throughout the year for recent 2021 athlete retirements and vote up the athletes you were most sorry to see call it quits in 2021.

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  • 1
    New Orleans Saints (2006-2020), San Diego Chargers (2001-2005)
    37
    4

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionQuarterback

    Announced retirement on March 14, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    Super Bowl champion (XLIV)
    Super Bowl MVP (XLIV)
    2× NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2008, 2011)
    First-team All-Pro (2006)
    4× Second-team All-Pro (2008, 2009, 2011, 2018)
    13× Pro Bowl (2004, 2006, 2008–2014, 2016–2019)
    7× NFL passing yards leader (2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014–2016)
    4× NFL passing touchdowns leader (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012)
    2× NFL passer rating leader (2009, 2018)
    6× NFL completion percentage leader (2009–2011, 2017–2019)

    NFL Records:
    Most career passing yards
    Most career pass completions
    Highest single-season completion percentage (74.4%)
    Most consecutive games with a touchdown pass
    Most pass completions in a season
    Most 5,000 passing yard seasons
    Highest completion percentage in a game (96.7%)
    Most touchdown passes in a game (tied)
    First player to reach 80,000 career passing yards (286 games)

    #55 of 80 The Best NFL Player Nicknames#30 of 41 The 41 Hottest Men in the NFL#8 of 96 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2019

  • 2
    Dallas Cowboys (2003-2017, 2019)
    24
    10

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionTight end

    Announced retirement on January 27, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    11× Pro Bowler (2004–2010, 2012–2014, 2017)
    2× First-team All-Pro (2007, 2010)
    2× Second-team All-Pro (2008, 2012)
    Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (2012)
    Bart Starr Award (2013)
    Most career NFL games by a Tight End (271 games)
    Top 20 NFL All Time Career Receiving Yards (13,046)
    Texas Sports Hall of Fame (2019)

    #133 of 1,341 The Best Football Players Ever#7 of 87 The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time#27 of 53 The Most Likable Active NFL Players

  • 3
    Los Angeles Chargers (2004-2019); Indianapolis Colts (2020)
    27
    14

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionQuarterback

    Announced retirement on January 20, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    8× Pro Bowl (2006, 2009–2011, 2013, 2016–2018)
    NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2013)
    NFL completion percentage leader (2013)
    NFL passing yards leader (2010)
    NFL passing touchdowns leader (2008)
    NFL passer rating leader (2008)

    #27 of 120 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time#132 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame#47 of 130 The Greatest College Football Quarterbacks of All Time

  • 4
    Boston Red Sox (2006–2019)
    17
    4

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionSecond baseman

    Announced retirement on February 1, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    4× All-Star (2008–2010, 2013)
    2× World Series champion (2007, 2013)[a]
    AL MVP (2008)
    AL Rookie of the Year (2007)
    4× Gold Glove Award (2008, 2011, 2013, 2014)
    Silver Slugger Award (2008)
    Home runs: 140
    Runs batted in: 725

    #21 of 146 The Best Boston Red Sox Of All Time#24 of 148 The Greatest Second Basemen of All Time#30 of 34 The Most Overpaid Professional Athletes Right Now

  • 5
    Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots
    16
    3

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionPlacekicker

    Announced retirement on May 26, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    4× Super Bowl champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLI)
    3× Pro Bowl (2002, 2004, 2014)
    3× First-team All-Pro (2002, 2004, 2014)
    NFL's all-time leading scorer (2,673 points)
    Most consecutive field goals made (44)
    Most combined regular season and postseason games played (397)
    Most career field goals made (599)
    Most career field goals attempted (715)

  • 6
    Chicago Bears (2007-2010), Carolina Panthers (2011-2019)
    21
    10

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionTight end

    Announced retirement on January 24, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    3× Pro Bowler (2014–2016)
    2× Second-team All-Pro (2015, 2016)
    NFL All-Rookie Team (2007)
    First Tight End with three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons

    #50 of 144 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time#18 of 62 The Best Miami Football Players of All Time#4 of 124 The Best Carolina Panthers of All Time

  • 7
    New England Patriots (2009-2020)
    20
    9

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionWide receiver

    Announced retirement on April 12, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    3× Super Bowl champion (XLIX, LI, LIII)
    Super Bowl MVP (LIII)
    New England Patriots 2010s All-Decade Team
    Super Bowl Record - Most Receptions in a 1st Half (7)
    Super Bowl Record - Most Career Punt Returns (8)

    #244 of 338 The Hottest Men Of 2021, Ranked#39 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time#1 of 40 The Greatest Jewish Players in NFL History

  • 8
    American Kickboxing Academy
    16
    6

    PositionUFC

    Announced retirement on March 18, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    Perfect Fight Record: 29-0
    8 knockouts, 11 submissions, 10 wins by decision
    Longest-reigning UFC Lightweight Champion in history
    WCSF World Championship Gold Medals (2009, 2010)
     

    #1203 of 1,316 The Best Athletes Of All Time#2 of 44 The Best UFC Fighters Who Walked Away From The Octagon#3 of 169 The Greatest MMA Legends of All Time

  • 9
    Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-2020)
    14
    4

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionGuard, Center

    Announced retirement on February 12, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    3× First-team All-Pro (2011, 2012, 2014)
    2× Second-team All-Pro (2010, 2018)
    9× Pro Bowl (2010–2012, 2014, 2016–2020)
    PFWA All-Rookie Team (2010)
    NFL 2010s All-Decade Team

  • 10
    San Francisco 49ers (2005–2012) Kansas City Chiefs (2013–2017) Washington Football Team (2018–2020)
    14
    6

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionQuarterback

    Announced retirement on April 19, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2020)
    3× Pro Bowl (2013, 2016, 2017)
    NFL passer rating leader (2017)
    #1 overall pick in 2005 NFL Draft

    #90 of 110 The Greatest Washington Redskins of All Time#39 of 86 The Best No. 1 Overall NFL Draft Picks Of All Time, Ranked#51 of 100 The Most Overlooked Quarterbacks of All Time

  • 11
    Miami Dolphins (2011-2017), Los Angeles Chargers (2018-2020)
    14
    7

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionCenter

    Announced retirement on February 12, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    4× Pro Bowl (2013–2015, 2018)
    PFWA All-Rookie Team (2011)

  • 12
    Chicago Bulls (2007–2016), New York Knicks (2016–2018)
    13
    6

    PositionCenter

    Announced retirement on March 1, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    2× NBA All-Star (2013, 2014)
    All-NBA First Team (2014)
    NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2014)
    2× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2013, 2014)
    NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2011)
    J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2015)
    2× NCAA champion (2006, 2007)
    NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (2006)
    Consensus second-team All-American (2007)

    #265 of 289 The Top NBA Players Of All Time#83 of 165 The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time#18 of 73 The Greatest Chicago Bulls of All Time

  • 13
    Dallas Cowboys (2010-2020)
    9
    1

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionLinebacker

    Announced retirement on April 26, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    2× Pro Bowl (2015, 2016)
    First-team All-Pro (2016)
    802 career tackles

  • 14
    New York Mets (2008–2009, 2011–2015)
    9
    1

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionOutfielder, Left fielder, Infielder, First baseman, Second baseman

    Announced retirement on January 29, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    3× All-Star (2014, 2016, 2017)
    NLCS MVP (2015)
    2× Silver Slugger Award (2016, 2017)
    Home runs: 138
    Runs batted in: 735

    #36 of 207 The Greatest New York Mets of All Time#546 of 582 The Greatest Baseball Players Of All Time#38 of 66 Who Is MLB's Greatest Utility Player of All Time?

  • 15
    Arizona Cardinals (2011-2012), Kansas City Chiefs (2013-2020)
    11
    6

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionFullback

    Announced retirement on March 4, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    Super Bowl champion (LIV)
    Pro Bowl (2018)
    Second-team All-Pro (2014)

  • 16
    13
    10

    NationalityIndia

    PositionSingles, Doubles, Mixed Doubles

    Announced retirement on January 1, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    65 Career Titles
    1 Olympic Bronze Medal (1996)
    Ranked No. 1 Doubles Player in the World for 39 Weeks (1999-2000)
    Career Grand Slam in Doubles and Mixed Doubles 
    Australian Open (2003, 2010, 2012, 2015)
    French Open (1999, 2001, 2009, 2016)
    Wimbledon (1999 (both), 2003, 2010, 2015)
    US Open (2006, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2015)
    Record for most Double Wins in the Davis Cup

    #50 of 57 The Best Men's Tennis Players of the 2000s#23 of 51 The Best Men's Tennis Players of the 1990s#2 of 34 The Best Tennis Players from India

  • 17
    Baltimore Orioles (2006–2014), Atlanta Braves (2015–2020)
    7
    3

    NationalityUnited States of America, Germany

    PositionRight fielder

    Announced retirement on March 12, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    All-Star (2018)
    Silver Slugger Award (2018)
    3× Gold Glove Award (2011, 2014, 2018)
    Hits: 2,388
    Home runs: 189
    Runs batted in: 1,046

    #313 of 708 The Best Hitters in Baseball History#16 of 109 The Greatest Baltimore Orioles of All Time#82 of 142 The Greatest Right-Fielders of All Time

  • 18
    Kelme (2002 - 2004), Illes Balears–Banesto (2005 - 2010)
    7
    7

    NationalitySpain

    PositionAll Rounder

    Announced retirement on January 22, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    127 Career Wins
    Winner of 4 Individual Stages Tour du France (2005, 2008, 2012)
    Winner Vuelta a España (2009) 
    Winner Critérium du Dauphiné (2008, 2009) 
    Winner Tour of the Basque Country (2017) 
    Winner Volta a Catalunya (2009, 2017 2018) 
    Winner Liège–Bastogne–Liège (2006, 2008, 2015, 2017)
    Winner La Flèche Wallonne (2006, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
    Winner Clásica de San Sebastián (2008, 2014)
    Champion of the 2006 and 2008 UCI ProTours
    Champion of the 2014 and 2015 UCI World Tours 
    Winner World Championship Road Race (2018)

  • 19
    Minnesota Vikings (2006), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006-2013)
    6
    6

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionOffensive Tackle

    Announced retirement on March 15, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    3× Pro Bowl (2010, 2016, 2017)
    Games started: 189
    Receptions: 6
    Receiving yards: 26
    Receiving touchdowns: 4

  • 20
    Chicago Blackhawks (2005-2020)
    7
    9

    NationalityCanada

    PositionGoaltender

    Announced retirement on January 9, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    NHL All-Rookie Team (2011)
    NHL All Star (2015, 2017)
    Stanley Cup champion (2013, 2015)
    William M. Jennings Trophy (2013, 2015)
    World Cup of Hockey - Gold Medal (2016)

  • 21
    San Francisco 49ers (2013-2017), Pittsburgh Steelers (2017-2020)
    6
    7

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionTight end

    Announced retirement on January 22, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    2,000 Receiving Yards
    15 TDs

  • 22
    Indianapolis Colts, (2006-2013)
    9
    11

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionSafety

    Announced retirement on January 7, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    Super Bowl champion (XLI)
    3× Pro Bowler (2007, 2009, 2014)

  • 23
    Atlanta Falcons (2004-2006, 2016-2020)
    7
    13

    NationalityUnited States of America,Germany

    PositionQuarterback

    Announced retirement on January 4, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    2× Pro Bowler (2009, 2012)
    Pro Bowl MVP (2009)
    NFL passing yards leader (2009)

    #96 of 97 The Best Quarterbacks to Never Win a Super Bowl#21 of 33 The Best Post-Interception Quarterback Faces#140 of 173 The Best Oakland Raiders Of All Time

  • 24
    New York Mets Organization
    4
    9

    NationalityUnited States of America

    PositionLeftfielder

    Announced retirement on February 17, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    Hits: 210
    Home runs: 18
    Runs batted in: 107

    #26 of 30 MLB Players Who Retired In 2021#10 of 85 The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time#44 of 213 Celebrities Who Should Run For President

  • 25
    PSV Eindhoven, Bayern Munich
    6
    1

    NationalityNetherlands

    PositionWinger

    Announced retirement on July 15, 2021

    Career Titles:
    Eredivisie champion (2003)
    Johan Cruyff Shield (2003)
    Premier League champion (2005, 2006)
    FA Cup champion (2007)
    Football League Cup champion (2005, 2007)
    FA Community Shield winner (2005)
    La Liga champion (2008)
    Supercopa de España champion (2008)
    Bundesliga champion (2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
    DFB-Pokal champion (2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2019)
    DFL-Supercup champion (2010, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018)
    UEFA Champions League champion (2013)
    UEFA Super Cup champion (2013)
    FIFA World Cup runner-up (2010)

    Career Awards:
    Johan Cruijff Prijs Award (2003)
    Premier League Player of the Month (November 2004)
    PFA Premier League Team of the Year (2005)
    ESM Team of the Year (2005, 2010, 2015)
    Bravo Award 2(005)
    Goal of the Month in Germany (January 2010, March 2010, April 2010, February 2013)
    VDV Bundesliga Player of the Season (2010)
    The kicker Man of the Year (2010)
    Footballer of the Year in Germany (2010)
    UEFA Best Player in Europe Award (2013 - 4th place, 2014 - 3rd place)
    UEFA Team of the Year (2011, 2014)
    UEFA Champions League Team of the Season (2014)
    FIFA World Cup Bronze Ball (2014)
    FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (2014)
    FIFA World XI (2014)
    FIFA Ballon d'Or (4th place - 2014)
    Dutch Sportsman of the year (2014)

    #20 of 1,185 The Best Soccer Players of All Time#2 of 56 Soccer Players Who Retired in 2021#127 of 347 The Best Current Soccer Players