20 Athletes Who 'Peaced Out' Earlier Than Expected
What's more important than a grand entrance? A grand exit; dropping the mic on the stage and strutting out on your own terms (even if the bewildered onlookers have no idea what those terms are).
This is why the quitting scene in Jerry Maguire is awesome and why Lou Gehrig's farewell is as legendary as it is tragic.
Saying goodbye sucks, which makes a memorable and unrepentant goodbye a rare and truly precious commodity.
It takes some stones to publicly make a decision that is guaranteed to cost you in some way; whether it impacts you financially or in your public perception.
For some athletes, a torched bridge may burn but never truly goes away—either because their skills transcend such matters or simply the act of arson is too spectacular to assign judgement.
These are 20 athletes that peaced the F out.
20. Michael Young
After playing 14 years in the MLB, longtime Rangers infielder Michael Young was facing the very real prospect of being relegated to a backup role for the 2014 season.
Instead of quietly accepting his fate and slowly fading away, Young, who played for the Phillies and Dodgers in 2013, decided to call it a career. Peacing out at the perfect time.
19. Marshawn Lynch
NFL players are required to be available for media interviews at certain times throughout the season. That’s a rule that doesn’t sit well with Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who refused to speak to the media throughout the entirety of the 2013 season.
Peacing out at every opportunity, Lynch repeated “Not today” every time he was approached for comment during the regular season.
He did, however, cave in the postseason. Facing the threat of a very serious fine from the league Lynch appeared briefly during Super Bowl media day.
Needless to say, he was not pleased. Lynch was on time to the event, but unlike many of his teammates who were assigned a podium, he spent about six minutes on the floor before heading off to the sidelines and being “walled off” by Seahawks personnel.
18. Sean Avery
In March 2012, Rangers agitator Sean Avery stopped by Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, which he decided was an appropriate venue to announce his retirement from the NHL. The loss of the 31-year-old, who famously interned for Vogue in the summer of 2008, from the game wasn’t exactly mourned within the hockey world.
Neither fans nor the Rangers organization were broken up by Avery’s decision to peace the F out—although they were a little confused. At the time, he hadn’t submitted any official retirement paperwork, so it wasn’t entirely clear if he was completely serious. He made it official the following August.
Then, in true Avery fashion, he immediately reminded everyone why they hated him for all those years by boasting that the Rangers' loss to the Devils in the playoffs could have—would have—been avoided had he been on the ice.
It was truly the most fitting way he could have ever said goodbye.
17. Rory McIlroy
Professional golfer Rory McIlroy was in the midst of a pretty deep slump during the Honda Classic in March 2013. He was also in the midst of a particularly unimpressive round of golf in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
When it became clear after a series of bogeys, double bogeys and triple bogeys that he wasn’t going to make the cut, McIlroy said his goodbyes to Ernie Els and Mark Wilson—giving them two different reasons—and peaced out with his caddie midway through.
McIlroy told a few reporters that followed him to his car that he was “not in a good place mentally” before driving off. He disappeared briefly and was not in communication with his publicist before turning up five days later to officially apologize.
16. Kobe Bryant
Known for being a cutthroat warrior on the court and possessing a “never say die” attitude, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant peaced out on the lowly Lakers before the 2013-14 season was even over.
At the final home game in Los Angeles, Bryant declined to address fans at the last minute and then he and wife Vanessa departed for Paris instead of traveling with the team on their final road trip.
The real issue wasn’t that Bryant peaced out on the Lakers early—after all, he missed all but six games last season due to injury—but that he did so without informing anyone. Said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, “I did not know he was leaving town.”
The perfect end to a perfectly awful season.
15. CM Punk
It’s been almost six months since WWE superstar CM Punk unexpectedly quit and wrestling fans everywhere are still pretty stunned. Any thought that his exit was a well-timed stunt ahead of WrestleMania was laid to rest when the event came and went in April without an appearance from Punk.
There’s been endless speculation about why Punk peaced out in January, but neither he nor the WWE have commented on the specific reasoning.
Of course, it may very well turn out the whole thing was nothing more than a dramatic way for Punk to take a planned vacation—there’s been plenty of recent buzz about a potential return.
14. John Moffitt
In November 2013, Broncos offensive lineman John Moffitt peaced the F out on the team, which would go on to play in the Super Bowl, with the official story being that he was retiring from the game.
An unnamed source close to Moffitt told the Denver Post that he planned on “doing some soul searching amid frustration at his lack of playing time.” Whatever that means.
Actually, if it means he wanted to spend more time getting arrested at Chicago nightclubs, well then mission accomplished.
13. Alex Bogomolov
Every athlete has probably had at least one moment in which he or she has contemplated peacing out over the boobery—be it real or imagined—of the whistled ones. Most of them think better of the situation and stick around before publicly calling out the zebras in post game interviews.
One athlete who didn’t think better of the situation and stick around is Alex Bogomolov Jr.—a tennis player who peaced out of a match in July 2013 after arguing with the umpire.
Bogomolov was surprisingly casual as he took a seat on the sideline and packed up his belongings, before walking out mid-match.
12. Alex Rodriguez
At this point, most of us would prefer that embattled Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez would peace out permanently, but it doesn’t seem as though he has much interest in going away.
Not that A-Rod couldn’t properly peace the F out if he wanted to—he certainly proved he has a knack for it in November 2013. That’s when Rodriguez and his legal team stormed out of his own grievance hearing with the MLB after an arbitrator ruled commissioner Bud Selig would not have to testify for attorneys.
11. LeBron James
The biggest story of the 2010 NBA offseason—not to mention the two years prior—was the free agency of Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. Everyone wanted to know one thing: Would he stay in Cleveland, not far from his hometown of Akron, where he was absolutely beloved?
The answer to that question, as we all know now, was no.
The King went in search of a new kingdom, ultimately deciding to take his talents to South Beach. As if peacing out on Cleveland wasn’t harsh enough, James added insult to injury by making the announcement via a 75-minute special on ESPN entitled “The Decision.”
In the years that followed, James expressed regret over the announcement, but in a GQ feature in early 2014, he made it very clear that peacing out on Cleveland was “the best thing that ever happened to [him].”
It’s hard to believe we’re just one or two years away from another free agent free-for-all to secure the services of the King.
10. Derek Anderson
In November 2010, former Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson straight up lost it in a postgame press conference after reporters grilled him about his sideline laughter during a particularly embarrassing loss.
First Anderson denies the laughter, then he launches into a whole thing about how serious he takes the game and then he yells more about how it’s not funny before denying that he was even laughing again.
The best part comes just beyond the one-minute mark when Anderson storms out in a huff.
9. Marion Bartoli
Just six weeks after winning her first grand slam title at Wimbledon in 2013, France’s Marion Bartoli announced her retirement from the game during a tearful press conference. The 28-year-old’s decision to peace out at the pinnacle of her career was forced by chronic pain, caused by decades of grueling physical exertion.
Stunning as it was, today Bartoli has absolutely no regrets.
Recently, she told the New York Times that people are constantly asking her when she’s coming back, trying to convince her to get back on the court. Last November she told CNN that she went from being a ghost in the lives of her loved ones to “the happiest person in the world.”
8. Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Mark Aguirre
In May 1991, the Bulls finally beat their hated rival Pistons, easily sweeping them in the Eastern Conference Finals—they went on to win their first championship with Michael Jordan. Detroit had bested Chicago the previous two seasons in the conference finals.
As is always the case in such an intense rival game, particularly in the playoffs, the Pistons were not pleased. Unconcerned with the ever-present threat of being lectured about sportsmanship via the media, Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Mark Aguirre peaced out early, heading for the showers with 7.9 seconds remaining on the game clock.
Bet they wish they had stuck around and collected some MJ game-worn memorabilia instead.
7. Kevin-Prince Boateng, AC Milan
In January 2013, AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who is of Ghanaian descent, peaced out during a match against Pro Patria. Disgusted and finally fed up with the racial taunts of Pro Patria fans, he kicked the ball into the hateful crowd.
Boateng then stripped off his shirt and walked off the pitch with the rest of the Milan team. The exhibition match was called and a public prosecutor opened a criminal inquiry into event, planning to pursue charges of inciting racial hatred.
6. Jake Plummer & Carson Palmer
In 2007, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan finally pulled the plug on the Jake Plummer experiment, shipping him off to the Buccaneers to (in theory) compete with Chris Simms for the starting job. When the deal was struck on March 3rd, Plummer reportedly told friends and business associates he was seriously considering peacing out.
“Jake the Snake” wasn’t just being dramatic either.
Six days later, Plummer officially announced his retirement at a press conference in Denver. He spoke for just five minutes and left without taking any questions. Apparently he was in a hurry to get to a handball tournament, that per the Washington Post.
In July 2011, former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer decided he’d rather retire and never play football again than spend even one more day playing in Cincinnati. He was hoping to force a trade, but Bengals owner Mike Brown wasn’t immediately feeling it.
Brown eventually he gave in and Palmer was rewarded handsomely for being an unreasonable jag—the Raiders insanely gave up a 2012 first-round draft pick and a conditional second-rounder in 2013 to secure his services.
Palmer was true to his word though—he peaced out and never played another game in a Bengals uniform.
5. Ilya Kovalchuk
In July 2013, Devils superstar Ilya Kovalchuck stunned the hockey world by announcing his decision to walk away from the NHL with 12 years and $77 million remaining on his contract.
Apparently the 30-year-old was considering peacing out prior to the lockout, but it was during the lockout he realized he wanted to stay in Russia and play in the KHL.
The timing left the Devils in a lurch.
Not only were they suddenly losing one of the best players in the world, they were losing him at a point which it was already too late to find a legitimate replacement via free agency. Kovalchuck was less than concerned about their plight, but he stopped short of shooting a grin and a double bird on his way out of New Jersey. Not far short though.
4. Graeme Swann
In December 2013, English cricketer Graeme Swann peaced out in the middle of the Ashes tour, stunning the cricket world by announcing his retirement from the sport before the final two Tests. He said that with the series already decided and his mind made up about retirement, there was no point in finishing.
Unsurprisingly, the media coverage of Swann’s shocking exit was not particularly favorable—nobody is going to throw a parade for a quitter. Then again, it actually was a little surprising to Swann himself, who was reportedly “upset” by the way his retirement was covered. Cry us a river, bro.
3. Ricky Williams
In 2004, former Dolphins running back Ricky Williams was at his peak. He had just recorded the two best seasons of his career, piling up more than 3,700 combined rushing and receiving yards in 2002 and 2003.
This made it a very odd time for him to peace out to spend more time with his weed. Williams cited the “demands and restraints” of a professional football career, in addition to a desire to travel as the reasons behind his retirement.
Said Williams, “I just don’t want to be in this business anymore. I was never strong enough to not play football, but I’m strong enough now. … I’m finally free. I can’t remember ever being this happy.” He was back a year later and retired once and for all after the 2011 season.
Apparently Williams no longer smokes weed—another thing he peaced the F out on. Today he’s high on spiritual healing.
2. Claudinei Angelo
In October 2013, Brazilian mixed martial artist Claudinei Angelo channeled everyone who has ever watched an MMA event when he peaced out mid-fight against Evilasio Silva.
Having been refused a timeout by the referee after being subjected to a barrage of blows by Silva, Angelo began pacing the ring looking for an exit.
Unfortunately, the cage door was locked, prompting Angelo to jump over the cage and make an unscheduled departure, posthaste. Before you go judging him for bailing when the going got tough, perhaps you should be admiring him for even showing up to begin with.
1. Michael Jordan
Distraught over his father’s murder and coming off three consecutive NBA championships in Chicago, Bulls great Michael Jordan sent shock waves through The Windy City in October 1993 when he confirmed his retirement to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The 30-year-old superstar said at the time, “I just feel that I don’t have anything left to prove,” also noting, “The desire just isn’t there.”
The following February, Jordan signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. His not so exceptional baseball career was brief, thanks in large part to the MLB strike that began in August and carried into 1995.
His Airness peaced the F out on both the Bulls and the White Sox in a little over a year—that's a lot of rejection for one city.
Thankfully, he eventually came to his senses and peaced back in (which isn't really a thing) for the Bulls. Jordan returned to play 17 games of the 1994-95 season and the following year led them to the first of three more consecutive championships.