It's easy for even the most casual of sports fans to name some of the superstars from the last 20 years of athletics. Heck most of them haven't really gone away, they still hang around in one shape or another. Names like Mike Tyson, Shaquille O'Neal and Zinedine Zidane may have played their last games or fought their last fights long ago, but they are still remembered by many and have active high profile roles. Other lesser known heroes and villains from the many realms of sports don't have as much notoriety and thus fade away from the spotlight often times never to be heard from again by most people. Only if you dig hard enough will you be able to discover just what in the world happened to them.
Some of them follow the sad typical athlete route and end up losing their vast fortunes to financial mismanagement or addiction to illicit substances. The best stories are the ones where they end up with a successful second career and are happy with the state of their lives. Well we have a little bit of column A and column B for you in this list. Here are what these 20 forgotten athletes from the past 20 years look like now.
20 Doug Flutie
To sports fans, Doug Flutie is known as one of the greatest players in the CFL and for his one season with the Buffalo Bills where he dragged them kicking and screaming into the playoffs.
To the general public and casual observers, Flutie is also the guy whose image helped sell a lot of cereal that one time lest we forget about the legacy of Flutie Flakes.
Flutie had longed transitioned into a role as a commentator and analyst but more interestingly, he decided to just dance! In 2016 he was paired with Karina Smirnoff on Dancing With The Stars but only landed the 9th place spot out of 12 couples. If only he could bust out a drop kick to stay in it. He's clearly stayed in shape, as he's run the last three Boston marathons and still looks like he could play today.
19 Frank Shamrock
Sometimes sports leagues have beefs with a former players of their that blackballs them from any form of recognition or Hall of Fame induction. The MLB has Pete Rose and the UFC has Frank Shamrock.
A shining superstar who left the promotion at the peak of his powers in 1999, Shamrock was possibly the first MMA champion who was a complete fighter competent in all areas of the game. Due to an undying beef between himself and UFC President Dana White, Shamrock's UFC legacy has buried but Shamrock has done anything but stay silent. He runs several businesses and while he retired from MMA in 2009, he faced fellow legend Kazushi Sakuraba in an awfully boring grappling match which ended in a draw. It seems like we have to wait for Dana White to retire for Shamrock to be inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame.
18 Amanda Beard
Competing at the Olympic level is unbelievably hard, but just imagine how hard it is for a 14 year old girl. Beard thrived under that pressure winning three medals (two silver and one gold) in the 1996 Atlanta Games. She broke records in the sport at ridiculously young ages like holding the American record for fastest 200 m breaststroke (since been taken by another swimmer).
She would go on to win seven medals in her Olympic career and although she hasn't competed in the Olympics since 2012, she still swims competitively every now and again.
Aside from swimming, Beard has kept busy. Not only is she a mother of two children, she also opened a business specializing in swimming gear and lessons called Beard Swim Co. in Washington State.
17 JaMarcus Russell
Ryan Leaf is still considered by many to be the biggest draft bust in NFL history. The only person who could make a bigger case than Leaf for for that title would have to be the man the Oakland Raiders tried to build their next generation around; JaMarcus Russell. Despite a great career in college, character flaws and terrible work ethic led him to being released in 2010 never to be signed again.
In his years away from the NFL, Russell ballooned up in weight but then shed it when he attempted two returns to the league.
Once in 2013 when he actually worked out with the Chicago Bears but was passed in favor of other quarterbacks. The second time came in 2016. He literally mailed letters to every team saying he would play for free but nobody picked him up. #ReturnTheRussell.
16 Curt Schilling
Former Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox pitcher has been a controversial figure throughout his baseball career with his numerous feuds among media members, players and team officials. Controversy did not leave his side in retirement as Schilling only made more noise once he put down his glove.
After founding a video game company and having it go belly up after just one game launch, Schilling transitioned into a role of an analyst and commentator. That didn't last long as ESPN fired him after a meme bashing transgender people broke the camel's back of bigoted comments. He currently spends his days as a right-wing blogger on Breitbart. Many feel that his political views may have kept him out of the Hall of Fame again this year. Regardless of what Schilling's views are, his production on the field definitely merits Hall of Fame consideration.
15 Eddie George
We guarantee you that this will be the most shocking entry on this list, at least when it comes to once this former athlete is doing now. It's unfortunately common for athletes to enter a state of despair and financial ruin. What isn't common is for an athlete to become a Broadway star once he steps off the field for good.
Eddie George used to be part of the one-two offensive punch along with Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans back in the early 2000s and late 1990s.
After some incredible seasons, injuries and the Madden cover curse derailed his career, ending it in 2004. George then opened up a landscaping architecture firm but he still wanted more. So after years of taking acting lessons, George landed a starring role in the musical Chicago as the smooth talking lawyer Billy Flynn. From spinning on the gridiron to trampling over the prosecution, you can't stop Eddie George apparently.
14 Jens Pulver
Many of the stars from the UFC's dark ages (that would from the time it was outlawed on PPV until Dana White and the Fertitta brothers bought the company) have been forgotten due to their lack of exposure. Jens Pulver was actually the first UFC Lightweight Champion ever, winning the title at UFC 30 and defending it twice before leaving the promotion. He would go on to fight way past his best by date and finally retire with a mediocre 27-19 record in 2013.
When Pulver retired, he struggled like many athletes do when their time is over. However, Pulver bounced back with a career in computer construction as part of the Red Harbinger team and as a streamer on the popular Twitch platform. Check him out at JensLilEvilPulver.
13 Gilbert Arenas
Born with great natural talent and perfect last name for an athlete, Gilbert Arenas was once a big star for the Washington Wizards but as the 2010s came a knocking the point guard left the NBA to play in China. That didn't last too long as he retired from pro basketball after just one season with the Shanghai Sharks.
In retirement, Arenas often found himself in the public eye for drama and not being afraid to voice his opinions.
Most recently he had the chance to put his opinions to good use as he is star of Complex News' sports talk show Out Of Bounds. The show hasn't exactly been a success because of the involvement of Mia Khalifia a headline seeking ex-adult film actress. That isn't to say that Arenas is much better, but at least he has some authority on sports.
12 Sean Avery
Known for being the biggest troll in the NHL, Sean Avery was never an exceptionally talented player but still drew a lot of attention due to his ridiculous antics (especially in the sport of hockey where having a personality is like committing a crime). When you get a rule named after you, you must have gotten someone to notice you.
Since hanging up his skates in 2012, Avery has dabbled in many different industries. From fashion to advertising to restaurants and even dancing, Avery certainly ain't your average hockey player. Most recently though Avery wrote an autobiography which in typical Avery fashion highlights his adventures with the opposite sex, thrashes as many people as he can and brags about himself as often as possible. Did you expect anything more?
11 Laila Ali
Women's boxing has failed to catch on in the mainstream like women's Mixed Martial Arts has, but the best shot that the sport had to be a big deal would have been in the heyday of Laila Ali. For those unfamiliar with her yes, she is the daughter of the iconic Muhammad Ali. She competed for only eight years but in that time she compiled a flawless 24-0 record with 21 knockouts. She also headlined the only female women's PPV in boxing opposite Jackie Frazier, the daughter of Joe Frazier.
Retiring in 2007, Ali transitioned into a career in television and nutrition.
This led to hosting several shows and guest appearances on others. Most recently she released a cookbook. We assume it has recipes like "Fly Like A Butterfly Sting Like A Bee Shake" and "The Greatest Chili Bowl Of All Time".
10 Roy Jones Jr.
Heavyweight boxing just ain't what it used to be. There are definitely some supremely talented individuals in the division but they lack a true superstar. In fact the last true superstar of the heavyweight division would have to be this man, Roy Jones Jr.
Known for his ridiculously fast hands and sneaky footwork, Jones Jr. not only knocked opponents out in quick fashion but looked cool doing it. Just when it looked like he was unstoppable, he was stopped by Antonio Tarver in 2004. Subsequent losses made him drop out of the spotlight but he kept on fighting, most saying way past his best by date. He finally announced his retirement this month after defeating Scott Sigmon, a fighter 20 years his junior, despite fighting through a torn bicep. Let's hope Jones keeps his word on retiring.
9 Daunte Culpepper
Daunte Culpepper was once one of the most feared quarterbacks in the NFL. Heck in 2004 he even broke the record for most total yards by a single player with a combined 5,123 rushing and passing yards. Unfortunately a crippling knee injury to his PCL, MCL and ACL prevented him from ever restoring his former glory. After failed stints in Miami, Detroit and Oakland, he retired from football in 2011 after only season in the short lived UFL.
Culpepper was unfortunately one of those cases of athletes suffering in retirement.
In 2013 Culpepper's home was foreclosed and he also had a restaurant called Culpepper's which has been closed as well. He keeps a low profile but can still be booked for appearances via his website.
8 Jonathan Cheechoo
An inspiration for Aboriginal athletes everywhere, Jonathan Cheechoo was never the most consistent player in the NHL but when he was on he was tremendous. This winger even won the 2005-06 Maurice Richard trophy with 56 goals. His success wasn't long term though as his career performance dropped off and eventually was not picked up by any NHL team by 2012.
Cheechoo would go globe hopping in order to continue playing. He wound up in Belarus for a couple of seasons from 2014 to 2016 and played out the 2016-17 KHL season with the Bratislava Slovan in Slovakia. At 37 years old it appears his playing days are over, unless he lands another KHL gig. Too bad he didn't get a shot to represent Canada at the PyongChang Olympics!
7 Drew Bledsoe
Before Tom Brady took over the New England Patriots and launched them into the highest tier of sports franchises, Drew Bledsoe was holding down the fort as a very solid quarterback for the Pats. He resurrected the franchise and led them to a Super Bowl appearance in 1996.
Once he got severely injured in 2001 from a torn blood vessel in his chest from a tackle, Brady replaced him and basically took his spot for good.
Once he retired after short stints with the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys, Bledsoe did the obvious thing that most former players do and became a coach for a high school football team. But more shockingly, Bledsoe founded a winery called Doubleback. Nice touch Drew.
6 Rick Fox
Unlike many athletes who enter retirement Rick Fox actually looks better post playing than he did as a pro athlete. This three time NBA champion with the L.A Lakers might not have been a big name like Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant, but he was still a solid member of that squad.
Some traditional sports fans kind of roll their eyes towards the e-sports culture but where some see a waste of time Fox saw opportunity.
In 2015 Fox purchased the E-Sports League of Legends team Gravity Gaming. Initially Fox's investment didn't pay off but with some key signings (funnily enough signing an acclaimed fighting game player SonicFox) Fox now has an army of tremendous players.
5 Steve Francis
Steve Francis was an acclaimed point guard in the 2000s as he played for several teams but was associated mostly with the Houston Rockets, where his best years were spent. His play was so good that he was deemed "The Franchise" for his ability to turn teams into contenders. Those years seem like an eternity ago, especially when looking at him in the picture above.
As much as we wish he was the man on the right, he actually is the guy on the left. Now at 40 years old, Father Time hasn't been kind to the former point guard and people have speculated that he's been on illicit substances. Francis has denied all of those rumours, but he did get a DWI and was arrested for burglary in the past few years. He obviously isn't handling retirement well.
4 Bas Rutten
Bas Rutten is a rare case of a guy who can act like he's the nicest and most charming guy in the world but in a flash can turn on his game face and make you defecate in your pants. He's intense enough that he had to write the letter "R" on his hands during fights to remind him to relax.
Except for a one off comeback fight in 2006, Rutten retired from the sport early due to injuries but transitioned brilliantly into a role of an analyst and television personality.
Nowadays Rutten is focusing more on his acting career and recently landed a starring role in Kevin James' new sitcom on CBS entitled Kevin Can Wait. And yes, he still comes across as the most charming affectionate guy you'd ever want to meet... but stay on his good side.
3 Gina Carano
Before Ronda Rousey became the de facto face of Women's MMA, the lovely Gina Carano was the lady that drew the eyes to the female version of face punching and leg breaking. She was a knockout in and out of the ring as she compiled several KO victories in Muay Thai and MMA but also looked like she jumped out of a swimsuit model catalogue. After being defeated by the monstrously talented Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino in 2009 though Carano left the sport and has never fought since.
There was plans for a comeback to fight Ronda Rousey back in 2014 but that fight never materialized.
In leaving the fight game Carano became an actress landing roles in movies like Deadpool and Fast & Furious 6. And yes, she still looks flawless.
People can usually rattle off some of the WWE Divas from the Attitude Era like Trish Stratus, Lita and Sable with ease. But Ivory might be the most under-appreciated ones as while she certainly wasn't a 10/10 bombshell, she was certainly attractive and a much better in ring performer than the other women employed by the company. After leaving the WWE in 2005, she only did a few matches on the independents before fully setting into a new life.
This new life involved a whole bunch of furry friends as Ivory has ran a number of pet grooming businesses. Her newest one is called Lisa's Place Pet Care in the state of Washington. If you want your pet to be pampered by a former Right To Censor member, then you found the place for your pooch or cat!
She's now set to enter the WWE Hall of Fame this year and it's a well deserved induction.
1 Marc Bulger
The quarterback for the St.Louis Rams throughout most of the 2000s, Marc Bulger had a few years of success with the team but his career got derailed because of injuries and lackluster play. He would end up as a backup for the Baltimore Ravens in the final year of career before retiring.
For the most part Bulger has kept quiet in retirement. He's not on social media and in fact he picked the most quiet job imaginable; farmer.
He owns some land in Missouri where he grows mainly corn and soybeans. Not only that, he helps the area with the Marc Bulger foundation organizing community projects with local authorities. He did however also purchase a mansion in Tennessee. Retirement has been quiet, but good to the former QB.