Washed Up Sports Stars Who Are Just Hanging On
Although us normal human beings seem to count down the days until we can retire from our careers, professional athletes are the exact opposite—and can anyone really blame them?
Enjoying the perks of getting paid more than generously—even if they're just riding the pine—athletes who actually play for a few decades is quite impressive.
And while guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan continue to impress people with their playing ability and leadership, here are a few who would be best served to just walk away from their sport, because I've declared them as being washed up.
I actually already regret even putting Kobe Bryant on this list—because he's arguably my favorite player in the NBA—but, sadly, I'm not sure I agree with why he's still trying to play any longer.
With five NBA titles, a ton of money and a legacy that finds him in the top 10 to ever play the game, Kobe has nothing to prove to anyone—but we all know his competitive juices won't let him walk away after a few down years due to injury.
In fact, watch, he'll go out and lead the league in scoring next year—even if he will be 36.
Just like the aforementioned Kobe Bryant, New York Yankees future Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter is on this list by default—but it doesn't mean I really wanted to include him.
Still, announcing this was his last season in the bigs was probably the best move Jeter could have made, because he has been limited all season long.
Much like a few others on this list, the Pittsburgh Steelers' Troy Polamalu has long since passed his prime—yet he's still a feared defender in the league.
While he doesn't fly around the field and disrupt plays like he did even a few years ago, Polamalu is generally regarded as one of the best—if not the best—safety in the past 15 years.
He owns two Super Bowl rings and a bevy of other personal honors, but Polamalu isn't the playmaker he once was.
While the other guys I've listed are Hall of Fame worthy, Jermaine O'Neal doesn't quite fit the same standard.
A former first-round pick of the Portland Trail Blazers all the way back in 1996, O'Neal has gone from up-and-coming star, to an All-Star, to what he is now—a veteran journeyman who fills minutes in hopes of making one last title run.
Unfortunately, he has yet to get a ring.
Look, I know that DeMarcus Ware just got handed silly money by the Denver Broncos this offseason to help the team's pass rush, but a lot of that is because of what he has done in his career, not necessarily what he will do.
The only thing missing for him is a Super Bowl ring, and signing with Denver gives him a chance to get one before calling it quits.
At 42 years old, I've mentioned Dallas Stars left winger Ray Whitney before as being just flat-out old for a professional athlete.
Hoping to score himself a Stanley Cup title with the Stars this season as they sneaked into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, Whitney fell short of the goal and is now left to ponder his future.
Whitney didn't have a completely geezer of a year in 2013, and while he has had a great career, it might be time for him to hang up the skates at this point.
Man, remember how good Elton Brand once was?
A former No. 1 overall pick, Brand seemingly could never catch a break with some of the team that he played for, never really getting a chance to become the face of the franchise for a perennial winner; he got as far as the Western Conference semifinals in 2005-06.
A two-time All-Star, the former Duke star sort of just fell into obscurity following his days with the L.A. Clippers years ago and has somehow remained in the league since.
One of the most dynamic quarterbacks ever—and, no, that's not an overstatement—Michael Vick has failed to regain the brief form of greatness he had back in 2010 when he took over the starting gig for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vick may have resurrected his career for a hot second, but since then, he lost the starter's role in Philly and has since found himself hoping for a shot with the New York Jets.
Who knows what will become of him in the Big Apple, but chances are it won't end with much glory—well, at least some NFL execs don't think that.
A perennial All-Star and one of the best hitters of the past 25 years, Ichiro Suzuki hasn't been the same player in the past couple of seasons. And though he's off to a decent start, It's not realistic to expect him to keep that average up all year.
Turning 40 years old last offseason, Ichiro has become somewhat of an afterthought for the New York Yankees, losing a ton of the skills that made him so entertaining to watch during his time with the Seattle Mariners.
Always one of my favorite players, Suzuki is now talking about wanting to pitch in a game, which, personally, is like waving the white flag at this point.
During his peak years, Maurice Jones-Drew was everyone's favorite fantasy football running back, consistently finding himself a top-five pick and always delivering.
These days? Not so much.
After a few seasons battling injuries, MJD was stuck on a bad team in Jacksonville and recently inked a deal with the Oakland Raiders.
Seeing how Oakland seems to be where players go to die, one wouldn't think there is much for Jones-Drew to look forward to.
Much like the aforementioned Elton Brand, New York Knicks forward Kenyon Martin was a former No. 1 overall pick who was never really the star of his own team—which is rare for a top selection.
Sure, Martin made one All-Star team and played in a couple of NBA Finals, but after enjoying team success with the Denver Nuggets for a few seasons, he's nothing more than a household name at this point of his career, providing little to any team.
K-Mart has proved that with a paltry 6.4 points per game average over the past four seasons.
I admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for Chicago Blackhawks backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin since my best friend jokingly calls me it as a nickname.
That doesn't mean I don't think Khabibulin shouldn't be out of the NHL, though.
Winning a Stanley Cup 10 years ago with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 41-year-old missed out on another title after the Hawks recently got eliminated by the L.A. Kings.
Playing in just 16 games over the past two years, I'd say it's time to plan for life after hockey if I were him.
Like a few other players on this list, there's no denying the greatness that current Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett had during his 19-year playing career, which will certainly land him in the Hall of Fame.
Seemingly seeing it all, KG has gone from the man with the Minnesota Timberwolves, to the sidekick with the Boston Celtics and, finally, the dreaded seasoned vet for the Nets.
Unable to stay healthy for most of this past season, Garnett struggled mightily, producing a career low in all categories and failing to provide much of anything but a recognizable name to the roster.
He was one of my favorite players 10 years ago, but, sadly, times have changed, brother.
As a Cleveland Indians fan, I respect the hell out of Jason Giambi for the leadership he has brought to the youngsters since he joined the franchise before the 2013 season.
Honestly, without some of Giambino's clutch hits last season, the Tribe would have never been in the playoffs—even if they did get bounced at home in the Wild Card Game.
Still, that doesn't mean he should just walk away already.
If the gray in his beard isn't enough to convince him to call it quits, that little fact should have probably been.
Sure, plenty of guys on this list might be hanging around their sport because they enjoy the hefty paychecks, but they rarely actually say that.
In the case of future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash, though, he did say that, openly admitting that he's holding off on retirement to cash in.
A two-time league MVP, Nash has proved that, sometimes, it's not always just for the love of the game—although I still do respect the hell out of the dude.
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