Many athletes use their determination and desire to become one of the best at their particular sports, basking in the attention that all the hard work eventually receives. Once their skills diminish and age starts to reduce their effectiveness, it starts to become time for a career change. The challenges of retirement can include financial hardship, the question of what to do next, or even depression from missing being in the public's eye. It is quite interesting how some of the most successful athletes in sports have found it hard to step away from the limelight.
Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens have both been no strangers to success as wide receivers in the National Football League. Combined, they have almost 27,000 yards of receiving and 11 trips to the Pro Bowl. Despite all this success, they have both had their difficulties leaving the playing field behind. Boxing can even be more taxing on the body, yet Bernard Hopkins thrives so much on the hype, attention, and money he gets in the ring that he is still boxing at the age of 50. Tony Stewart has had plenty of success in auto racing, but accidentally killing another driver on the track and a subpar season in 2014 are not enough to keep him away from the sport. Even the great Michael Phelps has had his problems trying to stay on dry land. There is just something many of these great athletes miss that compels them to keep participating in their favorite sports.
The following 15 athletes have been major stars in their sports, and despite much success they can't seem to step out of the limelight to call it quits. For most of the members on this list, financial hardship is not a primary reason for wanting to continue being relevant. Most of them simply find it hard to step away from the light cast upon them by their adoring public.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
15 Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is a legendary golfer who has earned over $100 million in his career. Woods has an incredible 79 tour wins throughout his career with 14 of them coming in majors. In addition to his success on the links, Woods has been able to attract a huge diverse fan base to the sport of golf including minorities and young people who are as enamored with his athleticism and long drives as they are with his overall skills on the course. In the last two years, however, Woods has been off his game. With plenty of money in the bank and an already established legendary status in the sport, Woods continues to try to capture the attention he once monopolized in the sport. This year, he even missed the cut four times in nine appearances. He doesn't need the money, but seems to miss being in the public eye.
14 Steve "Stone Cold" Austin
Although he has been making a name for himself with roles in movies and hosting gigs for reality TV, Steve Austin continues to attract more attention with guest appearances for the WWE. A legend in the professional wrestling ranks, Austin has a cult following in the sport that makes it hard for him to pass up any opportunity to appease the fans. Austin currently hosts two television series, Redneck Island and Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge, but hosting these types of reality shows defers attention more to the participants than Austin himself. When Austin appears in a packed Wrestlemania venue, there is no denying the electricity he generates. Still in shape, Austin has stated that he would like to keep his body intact despite his love for the sport.
13 Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson was "The Baddest Man on the Planet" at one time, winning 37 straight fights before getting his first taste of defeat at the hands of Buster Douglas. He went on to finish his career with a 50-6 record after going 1-3 in his last four fights. Tyson was at home in the ring and it was his failures outside the ring that weighed heavily on his career. In an effort to help pay off his debts and gain some sort of traction outside the ring, Tyson embarked on a 36-city tour to talk about his life story in the production, Mike Tyson The Undisputed Truth. Tyson has also made several appearances in the WWE, providing some evidence that he still enjoys working the crowd in and around the ring. He might have lost his passion for boxing, but he misses the adoration he once received from the public.
12 Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh is a fiery coach who jumped ship from the NFL to coach at his alma mater, Michigan. Harbaugh played on six NFL teams in a career that saw him pass for 26,288 yards and 129 touchdowns. He was a tough gritty competitor who was always able to elevate the play of those around him having the knack of willing his team to come back late in games. His competitive nature and aggressive style has enabled him to be quite effective as a coach as well. Harbaugh can often be found in the middle of a huddle as well participating in contact drills. When game time comes around, it is pretty obvious that he misses being the field general in control of the huddle. Now he only has post-game press conferences to gain some of the attention he misses from being on the field.
11 Bernard Hopkins
Boxing is a demanding sport and Bernard Hopkins is still a relevant fighter despite being 50 years old. Hopkins has won a remarkable 55 professional fights and has even had 20 title defenses in his illustrious lengthy career. Although he was soundly defeated in his last fight against Sergey Kovalev, losing his WBA Super and IBF Light Heavyweight titles in the process, he still hasn't called it quits. It would seem like this one-sided loss would push him towards retirement, but the words have yet to come out of Hopkins mouth. Hopkins has seemingly lost some of the quickness that made him such a "slick" boxer, but that doesn't prevent him from getting the attention he craves by stepping foot inside the ring.
10 Stephanie McMahon
Stephanie McMahon was the WWF Women's Champion in 2001 and has been in and out of the limelight ever since. The Chief Brand Officer of WWE is now an integral part of WWE and Raw, making her presence known as part of "The Authority", or the rulers of the ranks of wrestlers trying to get their shots at the various titles. McMahon clearly misses being part of the show and appears quite frequently with a microphone in hand. She has even been in a couple of scrapes, most recently getting into it with Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania 31. Although McMahon doesn't need to be such a big part of the show, she clearly loves the attention that come with being in the center of the ring. She still has the ability to be quite intimidating and certainly knows her share of moves.
9 Caitlyn Jenner
Something about being around the Kardashians has rubbed off on Jenner. The former football player turned Olympic decathlete now enjoys the limelight as the transgender Caitlyn Jenner. Bruce Jenner was on top of the world when he won the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal. He toiled in film and television work following the Olympics, but failed to be as successful in front of a camera as in the Olympics. He got a taste of fame with the hit show, Keeping Up with The Kardashians, and eventually came out of not one, but two closets with his revelation that he was a transgender.
It wasn't enough to come public, but Jenner had to have her own show, I am Cait, leaving some to wonder if the revelation was for publicity and attention or it is actually for real.
8 Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis was a legendary figure in the middle of the Baltimore Ravens defense, propelling them to two Super Bowl victories during his illustrious career spent entirely with one team. He was selected to 13 Pro Bowl squads and was the AFC Defensive Player of the Year a remarkable three times. In addition to being one of the league's finest middle linebackers of all-time, Lewis was also a vocal leader in the locker room and on the field. In his current occupation as a commentator, Lewis still displays the passion he has for the game and often gets emotional with his commentary and game analyses. His body might welcome retirement, but Lewis appears to miss being a leader on the field.
7 Ken Shamrock
Ken Shamrock has been a legendary figure in MMA, headlining numerous UFC and Pride Fighting Championship events throughout his fighting and wrestling career. Shamrock is on his fourth run with MMA, in a career that has also included stints in the WWE and TNA where he won several titles. He started his MMA career in 1993 and is still looking to fight at the age of 51. Many have criticized Shamrock for fighting too long, and most of that criticism surfaced years ago in 2008 and 2009. Once called, "The World's Most Dangerous Man", Shamrock is now a shell of his former self. One of the greatest fighters of all time, the UFC's first Superfight Champion has used his experience to found the Lion's Den MMA training camp, trying to remain prominent in a sport that he loves.
6 Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson had a terrific 11-year NFL career, making it to the Pro Bowl in six different seasons. Johnson has had his problems off the field, and has struggled keeping healthy, but he continues to play in Canada for the Montreal Alouettes. Johnson has over 11,000 yards receiving and 766 receptions playing in the NFL. He has even reached the end zone 67 times throughout his career, but it still doesn't seem to be enough. Johnson is in the second year of a 2-year contract with Montreal and has plenty to prove after playing in only five games last season. He will have to do better than seven receptions for 151 yards if he wants to recapture any of the glory and hype that he once had in the NFL.
5 Tracy McGrady
Tracy McGrady never seemed to measure up to the greatness of Kobe Bryant, the determination of Dwyane Wade or the consistency of Tim Duncan. He was, however, an incredible NBA talent who once averaged over 32 points per game for a season, and even had seven seasons with an average of at least five assists per game. McGrady ended up playing for six NBA teams and even spent a year playing in China for the Qingdao Eagles, where he averaged 25.0 points per game.
He signed with the San Antonio Spurs in 2013 and never played in a single regular season game, instead making appearances in the playoffs. In 2014, McGrady tried pitching in the independent Atlantic League trying to fulfill another dream. He still hasn't ruled out another return to basketball where fans know his name, but his game is simply not the same.
4 Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart is a stock car driver who recently turned 44 years old. Stewart has had a very successful NASCAR career with 61 career wins and over 340 top ten finishes in his rather lengthy, but illustrious career. Stewart's problems started when he broke his leg in 2013, ending his consecutive Sprint Cup starting streak at 521, a streak that went back to the 1999 Daytona 500.
Stewart finished with a subpar 2013 season and followed that up with one of the worst seasons of his career in 2014. What made matters worse for Stewart is that he hit Kevin Ward Jr. at Canandaigua Motor Sports Park, throwing him 25 across the track and ending his life in the process. Stewart won an Owner's Championship in 2014 with Kevin Harvick, and yet it still doesn't seem to keep him from driving his own car.
3 Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is one of the most decorated swimmers of all time, winning 22 Olympic medals and 77 medals in international long-course events. Out of those 77 international medals, 61 of them were gold. Phelps first captured the world's attention by earning a fifth place finish in the 200-meter butterfly at the 2000 Summer Olympics as a 15-year-old. Phelps established five world records before retiring in 2012, three of which he still holds today. Despite all that success, and with nothing really left to prove, Phelps came out of retirement in 2014. He went on to win three gold and two silver medals at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, proving he was still one of the world's best. Phelps has had problems outside the pool and is acting like he needs to swim again to repair his image and keep connected to his many fans.
2 Terrell Owens
Terrell Owens might have had a stellar NFL career, but many people probably remember him just as much for his antics during games as his accomplishments throughout his career. Owens did his best to establish a reputation for being immature, emotional and disrespectful on the playing field. He mocked people, as well as the league, and always seemed to need more attention than the attention he got from scoring a touchdown.
Apparently, life after football was more of the same, as Owens expected to be rewarded with instant stardom on TV. Owens went from guest starring on Necessary Roughness to failing as a team competitor on The Superstars. He even had to expose himself on reality TV with, The T.O. Show. He appears to miss the attention he once received on the playing field in front of an audience that had to endure his less than professional play.
1 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is no stranger to controversy and attracting his share of attention. He recently got released by the WWE following racist language and comments that were leaked by the National Inquirer and Radar Online. He has been around professional wrestling since 1977, and has returned to the WWE four times, which doesn't even include his returns to other wrestling organizations. Hogan even parlayed his fame as a wrestler into a reality television show, Hogan Knows Best, as well as stints in other television and music ventures. Although much of what Hogan does and continues to do is about making a living, it is also obvious by his career choices that he misses being in the center of the ring working the crowd and earning more fame.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!