For most professional athletes, walking away from the sport they have played for most of their lives can be an extremely difficult thing to do. We have all seen at least one legendary athlete tarnish their legacy by hanging around and extending their career for too long, and on the flip slide, we have also seen athletes retire early while they are still at the top of their game. And then there are the athletes who have a competitive drive that simply does not allow them to enjoy the fruits of their labor during retirement.
There may not be another athlete who has become more associated with retiring and un-retiring than former NFL quarterback Brett Favre. While we were watching Favre’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend (his induction speech is a must-watch, by the way), we couldn’t help but flash back to thinking about the truckloads of retirement speculation that followed the three-time NFL MVP around for most of his last decade in the league.
It began innocently back in 2002, and continued up until he finally walked away from the game and filed retirement papers in 2011. His first “retirement” came in 2008, when he was still a member of the Green Bay Packers. As it turned out, Favre attempted to come back to the team, but the Packers were simply ready to move on to the Aaron Rodgers-era and traded him to the New York Jets.
The Jets eventually released Favre, after he again contemplated retirement, before eventually signing with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009. He had arguably the best season of his illustrious career in his first season with the Vikings, but his second season in Minnesota was nothing short of disastrous. Even after Favre had finally hung up his cleats for good, his agent, Bus Cook, hinted in 2013 that Favre was still confident he could play in the NFL, and the St. Louis Rams even called to gauge his interest when they lost their starter, Sam Bradford, for the season with an injury.
Here, we rank 14 of the most notable professional athlete un-retirements of all time — after Favre’s retirement comeback, of course — listed in no particular. Who else would you add to our “Brett Favre Hall of Fame?”