35 Professional Athletes Who Played Too Long

Manning Brothers 560x373Many children start playing soccer when they are four years old. They can play tee-ball at five, basketball and football at six, and by the time they are seven, they may be playing hockey too. If they are talented enough, they will continue playing their favorite sport in high school and, if they are really lucky, college. Some kids might even get a full paid scholarship to play sports at the collegiate level.

For the majority of student-athletes, their athletic careers will end the moment they graduate from college. But for the select few that end up making it to the professional level, their careers are just beginning. For the top player in football, they could be playing for another 10 years before retiring. For baseball or hockey, it could be even longer. If it is basketball, the top players are looking at a career of 15 to 20 years.

r255293 1296x864 3 2 560x373If you add it all up, that means that when an elite NFL player turns 40, he has likely been playing football for close to 34 years. Between all the two-a-days, off-season workouts, mid-week practices, bus rides and flights for road games, he has done nothing but lived and breathed football. He has broken bones and bled for his teammates. He has fought through excruciating pain to stay in games because he knows that the fans will not understand if he misses playing time. He has become used to playing in front of 60,000+ screaming fans that either love him or hate him. He is addicted to the game and giving it up is not an easy call.

So how does he leave the game behind him and fill the void that is going to eat at him for the rest of his life? How can a man walk away from a game that he has given his life for?

Adrian Peterson 560x280

Is Adrian Peterson the next to join this list?

Many professional athletes run into this predicament as their careers come to an end and most of them make the right decision, even if it hurts them to make it, to retire on a high note. Then there are those athletes that cannot let go and end up spending their last couple years struggling to play at the highest level. Those are the players we are here to discuss today. Here are 35 athletes who waited too long to retire.

35) Dikembe Mutombo, C, NBA

  • Year: 2008-09
  • Age at Retirement: 42
  • Team: Houston Rockets
  • Final Season (Avgs): 9 Games, 38.5 FG%, 1.8 Pts, 3.7 Reb, 1.2 Blk

Dikembe Mutombo 560x280

34) Jason Giambi, DH, MLB

  • Year: 2014
  • Age at Retirement: 43
  • Team: Cleveland Indians
  • Final Season: 26 Games, 0.133 Avg, 3 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 12 K, 9 BB

Jason Giambi NY Post 560x373

33) Ed Reed, S, NFL

  • Year: 2013
  • Age at Retirement: 35
  • Team: New York Jets
  • Final Season: 14 Games, 27 Tackles, 3 Int

Ed Reed 560x373

32) Chipper Jones, 3B, MLB

  • Year: 2012
  • Age at Retirement: 40
  • Team: Atlanta Braves
  • Final Season: 112 Games, 0.287 Avg, 58 R, 111 H, 23 2B, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 51 K, 57 BB

Chipper Jones 560x350

31) Karl Malone, PF, NBA

  • Year: 2003-04
  • Age at Retirement: 40
  • Team: Los Angeles Lakers
  • Final Season (Avgs): 42 Games, 48.3 FG%, 13.2 Pts, 8.7 Reb, 3.9 Ast, 1.2 Stl, 0.5 Blk

Karl Malone 560x315

30) Alonzo Mourning, C, NBA

  • Year: 2007-08
  • Age at Retirement: 37
  • Team: Miami Heat
  • Final Season (Avgs): 25 Games, 54.7 FG%, 6.0 Pts, 3.7 Reb, 1.7 Blk

alonzo mourning 560x387

29) Frank Thomas, DH, MLB

  • Year: 2008
  • Age at Retirement: 40
  • Team: Oakland A’s
  • Final Season: 55 Games, 0.263 Avg, 20 R, 49 H, 6 2B, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 44 K, 28 BB

Frank Thomas 560x350

28) Jerry Rice, WR, NFL

  • Year: 2004
  • Age at Retirement: 42
  • Team: Seattle Seahawks
  • Final Season: 17 Games, 30 Rec, 429 Yds, 3 TD

Jerry Rice 560x336

27) Randy Moss, WR, NFL

  • Year: 2010
  • Age at Retirement: 35
  • Team: San Francisco 49ers
  • Final Season: 16 Games, 28 Rec, 393 Yds, 5 TD

Randy Moss 560x373

26) Steve Carlton, LHP, MLB

  • Year: 1986-1988 (Final 3 seasons)
  • Age at Retirement: 43
  • Team: Five Teams (Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins)
  • Final Season: 68 Games, 15-29, 5.72 ERA, 216 K, 177 BB, 1.651 WHIP

steve carlton 560x315

25) Chauncey Billups, PG, NBA

  • Year: 2013-14
  • Age at Retirement: 37
  • Team: Detroit Pistons
  • Final Season (Avgs): 19 Games, 30.4 FG%, 3.8 Pts, 1.5 Reb, 2.2 Ast

Chauncey Billups 560x373

24) Omar Vizquel, INF, MLB

  • Year: 2012
  • Age at Retirement: 45
  • Team: Toronto Blue Jays
  • Final Season: 60 Games, 0.235 Avg, 36 H, 13 R, 5 2B, 7 RBI, 17 K, 7 BB

Omar Vizquel 560x474

23) Dan Marino, QB, NFL

  • Year: 1999
  • Age at Retirement: 38
  • Team: Miami Dolphins
  • Final Season: 11 Games, 204-369 (55.3%), 2,448 Yds, 12 TD, 17 Int

dan marino 560x381

22) Steve Nash, PG, NBA

  • Year: 2013-14
  • Age at Retirement: 39
  • Team: Los Angeles Lakers
  • Final Season (Avgs): 15 Games, 38.3 FG%, 6.8 Pts, 1.9 Reb, 5.7 Ast

Steve Nash 560x373

21) Emmitt Smith, RB, NFL

  • Year: 2004
  • Age at Retirement: 35
  • Team: Arizona Cardinals
  • Final Season: 15 Games, 937 Yds, 9 TD, 15 Rec, 105 Yds

Emmitt Smith 560x411

20) Gary Payton, PG, NBA

  • Year: 2006-07
  • Age at Retirement: 38
  • Team: Miami Heat
  • Final Season (Avgs): 68 Games, 39.3 FG%, 5.3 Pts, 1.9 Reb, 3.0 Ast

Gary Payton 560x359

19) Dave Winfield, OF, MLB

  • Year: 1995
  • Age at Retirement: 43
  • Team: Cleveland Indians
  • Final Season: 46 Games, 0.191 Avg, 11 R, 22 H, 5 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 26 K, 14 BB

Dave Winfield 560x421

18) Deion Sanders, CB, NFL

  • Year: 2005
  • Age at Retirement: 38
  • Team: Baltimore Ravens
  • Final Season: 16 Games, 27 Tackles, 2 Int, 1 FF

Deion Sanders 560x423

17) Roger Clemens, RHP, MLB

  • Year: 2007
  • Age at Retirement: 44
  • Team: New York Yankees
  • Final Season: 18 Games, 6-6, 4.18 ERA, 68 K, 31 BB, 1.313 WHIP, 6.2 K/9

roger clemens 560x408

16) Shaquille O’Neal, C, NBA

  • Year: 2010-11
  • Age at Retirement: 38
  • Team: Boston Celtics
  • Final Season (Avgs): 37 Games, 66.7 FG%, 9.2 Pts, 4.8 Reb, 1.1 Blk

Shaquille ONeal 560x394

15) Chris Chelios, D, NHL

  • Year: 2009-10
  • Age at Retirement: 48
  • Team: Atlanta Thrashers
  • Final Season: 7 Games, -2, 5 Shots

Chris Chelios 560x423

14) Willie Mays, CF, MLB

  • Year: 1973
  • Age at Retirement: 42
  • Team: New York Mets
  • Final Season: 66 Games, 0.211 Avg, 24 R, 44 H, 10 2B, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 47 K, 27 BB

Willie Mays 560x376

13) Brett Hull, RW, NHL

  • Year: 2005-06
  • Age at Retirement: 41
  • Team: Phoenix Coyotes
  • Final Season: 5 Games, 1 Ast, 1 Pt, -3

Brett Hull 560x423

12) Joe Namath, QB, NFL

  • Year: 1977
  • Age at Retirement: 34
  • Team: Los Angeles Rams
  • Final Season: 4 Games, 50-107 (46.7%), 606 Yds, 3 TD, 5 Int

Joe Namath 560x420

11) Martin Brodeur, G, NHL

  • Year: 2014-15
  • Age at Retirement: 42
  • Team: St.Louis Blues
  • Final Season: 7 Games, 3-3, 17 GA, 169 SA, 152 SV (89.9%), 1 SO

Martin Brodeur 560x315

10) Patrick Ewing, C, NBA

  • Year: 2001-02
  • Age at Retirement: 39
  • Team: Orlando Magic
  • Final Season (Avgs): 65 Games, 44.4 FG%, 6.0 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 0.7 Blk

Patrick Ewing 560x315

9) Randy Johnson, LHP, MLB

  • Year: 2009
  • Age at Retirement: 45
  • Team: San Francisco Giants
  • Final Season: 22 Games, 8-6, 4.88 ERA, 86 K, 31 BB, 1.333 WHIP, 8.1 K/9

Randy Johnson 560x406

8) Jeremy Roenick, C, NHL

  • Year: 2008-09
  • Age at Retirement: 39
  • Team: San Jose Sharks
  • Final Season: 42 Games, 4 Gl, 9 Ast, 13 Pts, -1, 24 PIM

Jeremy Roenick 560x402

7) Grant Hill, SF, NBA

  • Year: 2012-13
  • Age at Retirement: 40
  • Team: Los Angeles Clippers
  • Final Season (Avgs): 29 Games, 38.8 FG%, 3.2 Pts, 1.7 Reb, 0.9 Ast

Grant Hill 560x315

6) Johnny Unitas, QB, NFL

  • Year: 1973
  • Age at Retirement: 40
  • Team: San Diego Chargers
  • Final Season: 5 Games, 34-76 (44.7%), 471 Yds, 3 TD, 7 Int

Johnny Unitas 560x363

5) Nolan Ryan, RHP, MLB

  • Year: 1993
  • Age at Retirement: 46
  • Team: Texas Rangers
  • Final Season: 13 Games, 5-5, 4.88 ERA, 46 K, 40 BB, 1.417 WHIP, 6.2 K/9

%name

4) Gordie Howe, RW, NHL

  • Year: 1979-80
  • Age at Retirement: 51
  • Team: Hartford Whalers
  • Final Season: 80 Games, 15 Gl, 26 Ast, 41 Pts, +9, 42 PIM, 16.0 S%

Gordie Howe 560x423

3) Michael Jordan, SG, NBA

  • Year: 2002-03
  • Age at Retirement: 39
  • Team: Washington Wizards
  • Final Season (Avgs): 82 Games, 44.5 FG%, 20.0 Pts, 6.1 Reb, 3.8 Ast, 1.5 Stl

Michael Jordan 560x564

2) Rickey Henderson, LF, MLB

  • Year: 2003
  • Age at Retirement: 44
  • Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Final Season: 30 Games, 0.208 Avg, 7 R, 15 H, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB, 16 K, 11 BB

Rickey Henderson 560x374

1) Brett Favre, QB, NFL

  • Year: 2010
  • Age at Retirement: 41
  • Team: Minnesota Vikings
  • Final Season: 13 Games, 217-358 (60.6%), 2,509 Yds, 11 TD, 19 Int

Brett Favre 560x315