A lot of times sports players have second thoughts about retiring. Retiring brings a drastic lifestyle change that some players just aren’t ready for. In comparison to the grind of the sports seasons, retiring can make players bored. Some players retired for reasons other than their age, such as the pursuit of another sport, but what these athletes don’t understand is how much they love what they do and not to mention the money that they get to bring home. Hanging it up is always a tough decision to make and one that these guys thought twice about.
You have to wonder why these guys retire and then still decide to come back to the game. I think some players just love the spotlight of retiring, then coming back. They want to see how sad people get when they retire and how happy they become when they come back. Take Conor McGregor for example, he just retired in the prime of his career. I say that it is nothing more than just a ploy for attention and he’ll be back very soon. Some players even retire and return multiple times! They change their mind like night and day, I wish I could just tell them to make a decision and stick with it.
There are also the guys who say they are going to make a comeback years after their retirement like Terrell Owens. He says that he is in NFL shape and thinks he could make an impact on an NFL roster, and I wouldn’t bet against him. After his past though, I’m not sure any team wants to risk bringing him to their team because of his track record. There are always rumors going around about these things, but this is a list of guys who actually retired and returned.
15. Michael Phelps
Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. In three Olympic games Phelps took home 22 medals, 18 of which were gold. After the Olympics, Phelps retired and he hasn’t been in the spotlight in quite a while. That will change soon however. Phelps has announced that he will be returning from retirement this summer to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics. This certainly spells trouble for the other swimmers if Phelps can be even half of what he used to be.
14. Lance Armstrong
After cheating and winning seven straight Tour de France’s, Armstrong retired. At the time Armstrong was known as a hero, no one knew he was cheating. People looked up to him and he even had his own “Livestrong” bracelets. After he retired, he then returned only to get caught cheating and lost all respect and dignity. I think it’s safe to say that his return from retirement didn’t go as smoothly as some of the others on this list.
13. Ricky Williams
Ricky Williams looked to have an extremely bright future as he came out of Texas. Fresh off a Heisman trophy he came into the league with the highest expectations. However 2004 marked the start of his decline. He tested positive for marijuana and he got a 4-game suspension. Instead of just serving the suspension however, he decided to take a much more extreme measure, he retired. He then came to his senses and returned to the NFL where he then served his suspension and was productive for the Dolphins but he never quite lived up to his expectations.
12. James Harrison
Two years ago, in 2014, James Harrison retired, but now he is playing for the Steelers once again. Harrison who now can be regularly be seen lifting enormously large weight on social media, was once the hero of a Super Bowl returning a 100-yard interception. Harrison came back because the Steelers were in desperate need of a linebacker and they asked Harrison who had retired after a disappointing season with the Bengals. He accepted and he is still playing today.
11. Mario Lemieux
Another player who had two retirements. He originally retired in 1997 but you know that won’t be the end. He then became a part owner of the Penguins and help save them from going bankrupt. When he returned in 2000 it was like he didn’t even miss a beat. He was extremely successful and he retired once and for all in 2006. Lemieux had an outstanding career in which he played every game with the Penguins. He was 40 years old when he retired in 2006.
10. Randall Cunningham
After winning many awards and an MVP for the Philadelphia Eagles, Cunningham was released from the team and he retired. He was 32 years old at the time and even though he had accomplished a lot in his career he decided to come back, and it proved to be a great decision. Even in his older age as he got into his mid to late 30s he was still producing some of the best numbers of his career for the Vikings. After he left the Vikings he spent a year with the Cowboys and the Ravens where he was a backup.
9. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson had a great career. What the most amazing part about it is, that it could have been better. If Magic hadn’t contracted HIV, which led to his pre-mature retirement, who knows what he would have been able to accomplish? Even though he had five NBA championships for the Lakers and a Gold medal with the, “Dream Team” he still thought he had something left to give when he came back for the 1996 season. He was nowhere near his normal self, but it was still nice to see Magic again. He realized that the comeback wasn’t necessary and retired after the end of the season.
8. Conor McGregor
Conner McGregor loves the spotlight and just played around with us on social media by saying, “I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later,” and about two days later he stated that he was not retired contrary to his blatant statement on Twitter account. His retirement wasn’t as official as most of the other guys on this list but I think it fits the criteria. This must be one of the shortest retirements of all time.
7. Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens is a cheater. I don’t think he could have accomplished half as much as he could have without his steroids. He did however, have two retirements. After the Yankees won back to back World Series in 1999 and 2000, they lost in the 2003 World Series. Clemens retired after the tough loss. When he returned the next season coming out of retirement he suited up for the Astros. After a couple of seasons with the team he rejoined the Yankees. Finally he retired for good and that’s when the allegations for his steroid use came out.
6. Allen Iverson
Iverson’s tumultuous career had its ups and downs. After the best portion of his career with the Sixers, Iverson bounced around with various teams. He had stints with Grizzlies, Nuggets, Pistons and then he retired. He seemed to be done when suddenly later that season he returned to the 76ers. He finished his career right where he started, and right where he should have, in Philadelphia. When his career was over, he was thought as pound-for-pound, one of the greatest ever.
5. Deion Sanders
Deion has made many retirements in his career because he played two sports. The two sport star played baseball and football at the same time. When he retired from both sports in 2001, only one of those retirements lasted. He was done with baseball for good but the same could not be said about his football career. When he returned at the age of 37 he played for the Ravens where he was just a shell of his former self.
4. Michael Vick
You may love him or you may hate him. When Vick got caught committing disgusting crimes with dog fighting he was sentenced to three years in prison and his career seemed to be over. Most people didn’t expect Vick to come back after the three years and still play at a very high level. The elusive quarterback played for the Falcons before his prison sentence, and afterwards he played for teams such as the Eagles, Jets, and the Steelers. Even though he spent three years away from the game he made a great comeback.
Pelé is one of the most beloved soccer players of all time, having played professionally since the age of 16. After winning many awards and championships for 17 years, he decided he didn’t want to play as much anymore so he only played part time. He had his half retirement but he came back to the game soon after. In his final game, playing against his original team, he played one half for each team as a sign of respect and he was universally loved.
2. Michael Jordan
Jordan is another two sport athlete. Basketball, if you didn’t know, was probably his best sport. Nonetheless he also played minor league baseball which is impressive in its own right, but basketball is more of what I am focusing on. After winning three straight NBA finals with the Bulls, Jordan decided it was a good time to just leave. He retired and went to pursue his baseball career. People believe that the death of Jordan’s father was influential in him stepping away from the game. His dad had wanted him to play baseball and Jordan wanted to honor that.
He came back, but instead of wearing his infamous number 23 he wore the number 45 which just looked awkward. It didn’t take too long for Jordan to get going again. Winning three more championships he now had 6 rings. Once again, Jordan thought it was time to go. He returned but not wearing Chicago’s famous red, black and white but instead playing for the Washington Wizards. Finally, he retired for the last time but he still couldn’t stay away from basketball as he became an owner for the Charlotte Bobcats, now known as the Hornets.
1. Brett Favre
Brett Favre is the headliner of this article. He is the man that gave me the idea to make this list. He is the king of fake retirements. When Favre retired for the first time in 2008 nobody could have predicted what was to come. Later that year he came back to play for the Jets for a season and retired again. He came back for the 2009 and 2010 seasons to play for the Packers arch rival, Vikings. He then retired for the final time. The Packers legend will always be remembered for his great playing career and his indecisiveness when retiring. Who knows, maybe he will come back and play once again.
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