15 Professional Athletes Who Didn’t Know When to Quit

Brett Favre gives a speech at the Hall of Fame inductment.

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre had a difficult time walking away from the NFL. | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

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 extending their career for too long. On the flip slide, we’ve 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 more associated with retiring and un-retiring than former NFL quarterback Brett Favre. We can’t help but flash back to the truckloads of retirement speculation following the three-time MVP. It began innocently back in 2002, and continued up until he finally filed retirement papers in 2011. His first “retirement” came in 2008, when he was still a member of the Green Bay Packers. Then, Favre attempted to return to the team, but the Packers were ready to move on to Aaron Rodgers. They traded him to the New York Jets.

The Jets eventually released Favre, after he again contemplated retirement. He eventually signed 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. 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?”