If retired athletes are anything like the proverbial tree falling in the woods, then it definitely makes a sound—whether or not anyone is around to hear it.
Just because athletes retire and aren't on television anymore constantly reminding you of their very existence doesn't mean they simply cease to exist.
Although sometimes it does feel a little like that, let me assure you that's not the case. Athletes keep on living their lives long after retirement—some are just doing it in a more public way than others.
That being said, let's take a look at some very random sports starts from the '90s and see what they were doing then and what they are doing now.
Paul O'Neill's career in MLB spanned an impressive 16 years, the most fruitful of which were with the New York Yankees. He's not likely to find himself in the baseball Hall of Fame ever, but he's certainly distinguished himself in other ways.
O'Neill was fortunate enough to find himself in New York during one of the most successful stretches in Yankees history. Between 1990 and 2000 he was a member of the World Series winning team an epic five times!
O'Neill also has the unique distinction of being the only athlete to have played on the winning team in three perfect games! And he also made a memorable appearance as himself in an episode of Seinfeld.
Paul O'Neill may have had some great years with the Yankees, but that doesn't mean he was lured in by the bright lights of New York City.
Although he has spent the last 12 years working as an analyst for the YES Network, he doesn't call the Big Apple home.
O'Neill was born and raised in Ohio, and he lives there with his family today. He's also an accomplished author.
In 2004, O'Neill released Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir, in which he writes lovingly about the man who instilled in him a love of the game and inspired him to always play his best.
There was a time in the '90s that former Vancouver Canucks superstar Pavel Bure was one of the most promising young players in the NHL. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in the 1991-92 season, honoring the league's best rookie.
"The Russian Rocket," as he was dubbed, possessed stunning speed on the ice and an uncanny ability to find the back of the net. Bure followed up his rookie season with two seasons so stunning that anything short of Gretzky (who is forever unmatched) greatness seemed plausible—maybe even probable.
And then came the knee injuries that would plague—and ultimately end—a career that could have been one of the greatest ever. Bure's NHL career spanned just over a decade, but throughout it he was merely a shadow of the player he once was.
Pavel Bure's injuries devastated his career in the NHL, but he always remained a high-profile superstar in his native Russia. When he married model Alina Khasanova, 15 years his junior, in 2009, the "exclusive" event was attended by over 300 guests. It was held at an upscale venue in Moscow and was one of the social events of the season.
Yet, he's done a bit more in his life over the last decade aside from getting hitched. He served as general manager for the Russian hockey team at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. And Bure was finally inducted into the hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
But that's the long and short of it, in terms of hockey. Bure has said he's never regretted having to give up the game as a player and that he has no interest in returning as a coach. Currently he lives in Miami with his wife and children.
In an alternate universe in which Michael Jordan never existed, Hakeem Olajuwon would have been a much bigger deal in the '90s. And when MJ wasn't playing (around the time of his first retirement), Olajuwon certainly made the most of it.
That's not to say he went under the radar or anything, but this eight-time All-NBA superstar was arguably the second-best player of the decade. He had the inexplicably quick feet and soft hands of a much smaller player—a man of that stature playing with that kind of ease and finesse truly defies logic.
Olajuwon played all but one of his 18 years in the NBA with the Houston Rockets, whom he won two championships with.
Hakeem Olajuwon retired over a decade ago, but he hasn't put the game behind him entirely.
In recent years, he's served as a coach, mentor and/or protege for some of the biggest names in the NBA today, including, but not limited to, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Yet, it's not all hoops for Olajuwon these days. He and his family split time between their ranch in Texas and their home in Jordan, where he moved years ago to focus on Islamic studies.
Although Olajuwon does spend the bulk of the year overseas, he makes the most of his time in the U.S. by mentoring not just current NBA players, but also young kids as well.
His 113.5 sacks is tied for the second-most of the decade, he was voted to five Pro Bowls and named an All-Pro twice over his 14-year career. Greene may very well be one of the most underappreciated players of the decade—if not any decade.
He was, and remains, particularly beloved in Pittsburgh despite playing just three seasons with the Steelers. They just so happened to be the most productive of his career. If only he had stayed with the Black and Gold.
Toward the tail end of his NFL career, Kevin Greene had a short stint as a wrestler with World Championship Wrestling. Obviously that didn't pan out as a post-football life.
Perhaps he decided to take a few years off after retiring from the game, but eventually football came calling once again. In early 2009, Greene was hired by Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers—a former Steelers coach who he once played for—to serve as the linebackers coach in Green Bay.
Two years later, the Packers defeated the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, which was the first championship of Greene's career. Maybe that kind of continued success as a coach will finally help put him over the hump in Hall of Fame voting at some point—an honor very much deserved.
Baller Shawn Kemp was supposed to play college hoops at Kentucky but was forced to leave the team his freshman year after being accused of pawning two gold chains he allegedly stole from one of his teammates.
Without ever playing any college ball, Kemp was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in the first round of the 1989 NBA draft. He went on to have a solid career in the pros, being named to the All-Star team six times, but few would say he came close to living up to his potential.
Kemp played just under a decade in Seattle, but by the time he left in 1997, his career was all but over. Stints in Cleveland, Portland and later Italy capped a largely disappointing career that left way too much out on the court.
Away from basketball, Shawn Kemp has had his hands full—which is an understatement—taking care of his large family. He's reported to have no less than seven children, but various reports suggest that number could be much higher.
Kemp has also had his share of legal problems since retiring from basketball.
In 2005, police found him and another man in possession of large quantities of marijuana and cocaine, as well as a semiautomatic rifle. He ultimately plead guilty to the charge, which came four years after he entered drug rehab for cocaine abuse.
A year later, in 2006, Kemp was again arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Houston. In recent years, he's battled his weight, which has received much scrutiny in various media outlets.
Thankfully, it's not all bad news for Kemp; no less than three of his children are accomplished athletes and have been making (good) headlines at the high school and collegiate levels in recent years.
And as of June 2012, Kemp was the proud owner of a sports bar in Seattle.
Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan is, unfortunately, best known for being the target of a bizarre plot by rival Tonya Harding and her hapless gang of henchman months prior to the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer.
If she wasn't America's ice princess prior to the incident, she certainly was after. Despite suffering a significant injury when she was clubbed in the knee at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in early January of that year, Kerrigan recovered in time to complete in the Olympics just weeks later.
She lost gold to Russian Oksana Baiul in a very controversial decision, but still captured the silver for the U.S. Kerrigan retired from competitive skating not long after, but continued skating in different venues.
Since retiring from skating nearly two decades ago, Nancy Kerrigan has still made much of her living on the ice. She's periodically competed in Champions on Ice, which features countless former Olympians and tours the country, over the years.
In 2006, Kerrigan appeared in the Fox reality debacle Skating with Celebrities, a few years after appearing in the ice musical adaptation of the ridiculous '80s classic Footloose, dubbed Footloose on Ice. And in 2007, she had a cameo in the Will Ferrell comedy Blades of Glory.
Kerrigan has also found work as a correspondent during the Winter Olympics in recent years and was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004.
Unfortunately, the Kerrigan family has fallen on some very tough times more recently. Her brother, Mark, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his father in 2010 and was sentenced to the maximum sentence. As of 2012, the case was still playing out in court.
New York Knicks great Patrick Ewing is widely regarded as one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He played 15 of his 17 seasons in the league in New York, but never managed to win a championship with the team.
Ewing and the Knicks, not to mention almost every other team in the league, had the misfortune of playing the game at the same time as Michael Jordan—who totally hogged all the championships in the '90s. Ewing wasn't short on accomplishments though.
The 1986 Rookie of the Year went on to be named an All-Star more than 10 times and has two Olympic gold medals to his name. In 2003, Ewing's No. 33 was retired by the Knicks.
Patrick Ewing retired as a member of the Orlando Magic in 2002 and immediately went on to work as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards and Rockets through 2006. The next season, he was hired by first-year head coach Stan Van Gundy as an assistant coach for the Magic.
In 2008, Ewing earned a much deserved place among NBA royalty when he was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame. A year later, he is said to have played a pivotal role in the Magic's run to the 2009 NBA Finals, where they ultimately lost to the Lakers.
Oh! And he isn't the only Ewing who knows his way around the court. Patrick Ewing Jr. played college ball for Indiana before transferring to Georgetown in 2006. Junior was selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA draft by the Kings, but has largely been relegated to the D-League ever since.
When the Dwight Howard massacre went down in Orlando in 2012, Ewing followed everyone else employed by the Magic out the door with Stan Van Gundy. He was offered a job coaching the Knicks' D-League team, the Erie Bay Hawks, but ultimately turned it down.
Kickers in the NFL could very well be the most disrespected players at any position in all of sports. But if any placekicker in history deserves some serious respect, it's the great Gary Anderson.
He wasn't just any kicker coming out of high school; he had his pick of four college scholarships, ultimately choosing Syracuse. Anderson was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 1982 NFL draft, but was cut before the season began.
The Steelers immediately picked him up, and Anderson remained in Pittsburgh for an epic 14 years. All the more epic was the fact that he remained in the NFL for another decade after his tenure there.
In 1998, he became the first kicker in NFL history to have a "perfect season," which for a kicker means connecting on every extra point and field goal all season. Anderson retired after 22 years in the league in 2004.
In the almost-decade since Gary Anderson retired from the NFL, he and his wife Kay have settled into a very comfortable life in Alberta, Canada. In 2004, the couple and their two sons moved to the Rocky Mountains town of Canmore, where Anderson remains a pretty big name.
The family is known to give generously to various causes and organizations, and Gary himself has coached the local boys' high school soccer team. In 2009, he hosted his 8th Annual Gary Anderson Golf Tournament FORE Kids!
His son, Austin, is following in his father's footsteps too; he was the starting kicker at Montreal's McGill University until his graduation in 2012. In retirement, Anderson has had time to devote to another hobby he loves: fly-fishing.
Solid center fielder Andy Van Slyke is one of the most overlooked major leaguers of the '90s. He played seven of his 12 seasons in MLB with the Pittsburgh Pirates, although it was well before Pittsburgh was officially relegated into obscurity for 20-plus seasons.
Over his career, he was selected to the All-Star Game three times, took Silver Slugger award honors twice and was a five-time Gold Glove award winner. Van Slyke kicked up a little controversy during the first Gulf War in 1991 when he refused to wear the Canadian maple leaf on his helmet as a sign of solidarity.
Instead, he scraped it off the helmet, insisting Canada was a "pacifist, socialist country" (per the Record-Journal). His views didn't sit well with...anyone really. MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent decreed the decal be replaced. Surely he's found even more foreign enemies since retirement.
Andy Van Slyke had an unquestionably solid career in MLB, but the Hall of Fame is not in his future. He became eligible for the HOF in 2001 and received precisely zero votes—which permanently eliminated him from BBWAA voting in the future.
After retiring from the game, he eventually landed a job coaching; he was hired by Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland to coach first base in 2006. In 2008, Van Slyke co-authored the book Tiger Confidential: The Untold Inside Story of the 2008 Season with Jim Hawkins.
Although it hasn't been officially confirmed, there has been much speculation that the tell-all book was the reason he didn't return to the team for the 2010 season. Perhaps that's why he switched to fiction in 2010, when he published The Curse: Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Or Do They?
But Van Slyke has also found time for family—he's got four sons! Three of whom have played collegiate or professional sports. A.J. played baseball at Kansas and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005, Jared played football at Michigan, and Scott currently players for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Running back Barry Sanders is universally considered one of the greatest in NFL history. Perhaps he's not the greatest ever, but when you're comparing him to the likes of Jim Brown, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith, does it even matter?
And his accolades started before he made his way to the NFL.
After two mediocre season at Oklahoma State, Sanders was finally named the starter for the Cowboys in 1988 and went on to have what many have described as the greatest single season in the history of college football—one which he won the Heisman Trophy for.
Sanders was ranked the No. 1 most elusive running back of all time and the No. 17 greatest player of all time by NFL.com. Honestly, the career accomplishments of this 10-time Pro Bowler and 10-time All-Pro are simply too numerous to catalog here.
Nearly a decade after his retirement, Sanders remains the NFL's No. 3 all-time leading rusher.
Unfortunately for fans, Sanders ended his career before its time. He devastated fans by announcing his retirement in 1999 via a faxed letter to The Wichita Eagle.
Sanders was just over 1,000 yards behind Walter Payton as the all-time leading rusher, but later admitted he only said goodbye because the Detroit Lions had no interest in winning.
Since saying goodbye to the game, Sanders has been doing a little bit of everything. According to a 2009 interview with ESPN's Page 2, he's the part-owner of a small bank, was working to open up a car dealership and was spending time with his family. He also enjoys a few rounds of golf!
Sanders still lives in Detroit—he went through a high-profile divorce in 2012—and has three kids.
His eldest son, Barry, was a redshirt freshman at Stanford in 2012 who gained a lot of attention, if not playing time, thanks to his famous father.
Canadian Eric Lindros was selected No. 1 overall in the 1991 NHL draft by the (now defunct) Quebec Nordiques. That's quite awhile back, but in today's terms, Lindros came into the league with the same level of hype and expectation as Sidney Crosby did in 2005.
Unlike Crosby though, Lindros pulled an Eli Manning, absolutely refusing to play for the team that drafted him, which resulted in a trade to the Philadelphia Flyers. He may have caught a lot more flack for that move if he hadn't been such an exemplary player.
Lindros' play improved through each of his first seven seasons in the NHL, but then began a rapid downturn. He had missed substantial time with injuries, particularly with concussions.
Lindros was a great player but was struck down in his prime without ever fully realizing his immense potential. He retired in 2007 at the age of 34 without ever playing a full season.
Shockingly enough, Eric Lindros just turned 40 in early 2013—yet he's been retired for almost seven years. Although he hung up his skates for good in 2007, shortly after announcing his retirement, he immediately took on a position with the the NHL Players' Association.
Lindros was named an ombudsman, a newly created position which was charged with representing the "interest of the public" by dealing with complaints. It was a job he held until February 2009 when he officially resigned the position, failing to elaborate on the reason.
Today, Lindros remains active in charitable causes such as Habitat for Humanity. And in December 2011, he participated in the Winter Classic Alumni Game in Philadelphia—naturally, he played for the Flyers.
Who says there's no loyalty in sports? Legendary slugger Tony Gwynn played all 20 seasons of his MLB career with the San Diego Padres before retiring after the 2001 season.
He didn't just play professional ball in San Diego either, he was born and raised in SoCal and attended San Diego State University.
Over his stellar career, Gwynn was named an All-Star over a dozen times. He also won the Silver Slugger award seven times and the Gold Glove award five times.
In addition to holding almost every relevant franchise record for the Padres, he was also the NL batting champion eight times in two decades.
Tony Gwynn retired from MLB in 2001 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 on the first ballot. Not much of a surprise considering The New York Times called him "arguably the best pure hitter of his generation."
And he didn't have to stray too far from his baseball roots in order to find a life after the major leagues. During Gwynn's final season with the Padres, he was already openly lobbying for a coaching position at his alma mater, San Diego State.
And eventually he did land that head coaching position—a position which he maintains to this day.
He may not have been named the head coach immediately, but his efforts paid off and he's been working for the team ever since. Gwynn also works occasionally as a baseball analyst, and in 2012, announced that he was cancer-free after being diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his mouth in 2011.
In the '90s, American volleyball player Gabrielle Reece became one of the first bona fide female-sex-symbol athletes. As in she was an athlete first, sex symbol second. She played professional volleyball for several years, and her four-man team won the first ever Beach Volleyball World Championship.
But Reece, who has said she learned how to market herself from fellow Florida State athlete Deion Sanders, found plenty of fame off the court too. She had no problem finding modeling work, having appeared in Shape, Elle, Life, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, not to mention Playboy.
Throughout the decade, Reece regularly appeared as a guest star on various television shows and landed a number of hosting gigs as well. The '90s were definitely the decade of Gabby.
It's been just over 20 years since Gabrielle Reece shot to fame, yet it seems she hasn't aged a day. God only knows what she's been doing to take care of herself over all this time, but whatever it is—it's working.
Frankly, it's working so well that unless she says it has something to do with a deal with the devil, I'd probably be a little skeptical of the explanation.
Today, Reece is married to big-wave surfer Lair Hamilton, her husband of over 15 years, and the two are raising their children in California.
According to her website, she's also developed her own workout and his hawking her own line of nutritional supplements.
Reece is also doing the mommy blogging thing, the occasional motivational speaking gig and teaching leadership skills to young girls.
Paul Coffey was one of the most prolific two-way defenders in NHL history, not to mention one of the most talented players of all time. He ranks just behind the great Ray Bourque on the NHL's all-time leading scoring list for defensemen—pretty exclusive company.
Coffey's career in the league spanned over two full decades, during which he played for nine different teams. Yet, more than 10 of them were played with the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins—which Coffey has said were his two favorite teams to play for.
That could have something to do with the fact that he won four Stanley Cups during those years. He was drafted in 1980, retired in 2001 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.
After Paul Coffey retired from the NHL, he was offered a coaching position with the Phoenix Coyotes, who were owned by the great Wayne Gretzky at the time. He said that he thought hard about the opportunity afforded to him in Phoenix, but ultimately declined.
Coffey was settled in Canada and was looking forward to spending more time with his family. He and his wife Stephanie live with their three sons in Ontario. In 2004, he began his life after hockey by opening up a car dealership in the Toronto area.
He later opened a second dealership and enjoys impressing the locals with stories of his playing days with some of the greatest legends to ever wield a hockey stick. In 2010, Coffey was one of the Penguins legends who suited up for the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
Jack-of-all-trades defenseman Ronnie Lott was honored as a consensus All-American while playing college ball at the University of Southern California. He was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 1981 NFL draft.
Lott played nearly a decade in San Francisco, by far the most fruitful years of his career. Lott was selected to the Pro Bowl 10 times and has been rated the No. 11 player of all time by NFL.com. He also has a little hardware to commemorate those days—four Super Bowl rings.
An injury in 1985 famously forced Lott to switch positions when a bone-crushing hit resulted in the amputation of the tip of his left pinkie finger. Lott retired for good after the 1995 season and was inducted into the Hall of Fame just five years later.
Ronnie Lott has been out of the game for almost 20 years, but don't expect to see him in one of those cautionary tale lists of athletes who lost all their money investing in magic beans...or drugs.
He's doing quite well for himself. In fact, in a 2007 article, USA Today described him as "one of the most successful athletes at making the transition to business." Lott manages upwards of $2 billion in investments and owns a number of luxury car dealerships.
In the immediate years following his retirement, he worked as an analyst for Fox Sports, and he currently hosts a show for the Pac-12 Network. Lott is also actively involved in a number of charitable endeavors and has taken an active interest in the newfound focus on player safety.
In November 2012, he starred in a video demonstrating the difference between clean physical plays and dirty hits.