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Athletes Who Retired In 2021

Updated July 26, 2021 524 votes 44 voters 1.1k views117 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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    Drew Brees

    New Orleans Saints (2006-2020), San Diego Chargers (2001-2005)

    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)

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    Philip Rivers

    Los Angeles Chargers (2004-2019); Indianapolis Colts (2020)

    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)

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    Julian Edelman

    New England Patriots (2009-2020)

    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)

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    Dustin Pedroia

    Boston Red Sox (2006–2019)

    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

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    Jason Witten

    Dallas Cowboys (2003-2017, 2019)

    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)

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    Greg Olsen

    Chicago Bears (2007-2010), Carolina Panthers (2011-2019)

    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

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    Alex Smith

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

    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

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    Khabib Nurmagomedov

    American Kickboxing Academy

    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)
     

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    Joakim Noah

    Chicago Bulls (2007–2016), New York Knicks (2016–2018)

    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)

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    Mike Pouncey

    Miami Dolphins (2011-2017), Los Angeles Chargers (2018-2020)

    PositionCenter

    Announced retirement on February 12, 2021

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

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    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

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    Daniel Murphy

    New York Mets (2008–2009, 2011–2015)

    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

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    Maurkice Pouncey

    Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-2020)

    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

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    Anthony Sherman

    Arizona Cardinals (2011-2012), Kansas City Chiefs (2013-2020)

    PositionFullback

    Announced retirement on March 4, 2021

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

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    Adam Vinatieri

    Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots

    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)

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    Nick Markakis

    Baltimore Orioles (2006–2014), Atlanta Braves (2015–2020)

    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

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    Sean Lee

    Dallas Cowboys (2010-2020)

    PositionLinebacker

    Announced retirement on April 26, 2021

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

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    Antoine Bethea

    Indianapolis Colts, (2006-2013)

    PositionSafety

    Announced retirement on January 7, 2021

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

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    Tim Tebow

    New York Mets Organization

    PositionLeftfielder

    Announced retirement on February 17, 2021

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

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    Alejandro Valverde

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

    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)

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    Vance McDonald

    San Francisco 49ers (2013-2017), Pittsburgh Steelers (2017-2020)

    PositionTight end

    Announced retirement on January 22, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    2,000 Receiving Yards
    15 TDs

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    Donald Penn

    Minnesota Vikings (2006), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006-2013)

    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

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    Corey Crawford

    Chicago Blackhawks (2005-2020)

    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)

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    Arjen Robben

    PSV Eindhoven, Bayern Munich

    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)

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  • 25

    Announced retirement on May 4, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    Highest singles ranking: #16 (January 16, 2017)
    Highest doubles ranking: #1 (July 15, 2019)
    Career singles titles: 2
    Career doubles titles: 31
    Wimbledon doubles: Won (2019)
    Austalian Open double: Runner-Up (2020)
    Bronze Medalist in doubles at 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics

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