Randy Moss and the Top 25 Athlete Homecomings of All Time
In the wake of the news that one of the best wide receivers in the history of the NFL is too much of a pain in the rear for one of the best football teams in the league to keep around, we've kind of lost sight of how great it is going to be to see Randy Moss back in a Minnesota Vikings jersey.
In the era of free agency, there is no room for sentimentality any more, and professional athletes so often leave their teams, their cities, and their fans at the drop of a hat when another team beckons with a big payday.
And so the fans are left with only the memories of yesteryear while they watch their hero toil in another team's jersey. Rarely do we get the opportunity like we're getting with Moss: the opportunity to see that player back in the uniform in which we so fondly remember him.
Here's a look at some other great homecomings in sports history.
25. Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies
Poor Placido Polanco.
He gets traded by the Cardinals to the Phillies, and the Cardinals win the World Series. Then he gets traded by the Phillies to the Tigers, and the Phillies win the World Series.
Polanco was back in Philly in 2010 after five years away, and hopes to finally be on the right side of the transaction wire when the World Series is won.
24. Jeremiah Trotter, Philadelphia Eagles
Watch for a recurring theme here.
Jeremiah Trotter was an outstanding linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1998 to 2001. So outstanding, in fact, that the Washington Redskins signed him away as a free agent.
After just two seasons in Washington, "Trot" came back to Philadelphia where he belonged, and in 2005 registered 100 tackles for the first time since 2000.
23. Dana Stubblefield, San Francisco 49ers
Second verse, same as the first.
Dana Stubblefield was an outstanding defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers from 1993 to 1997, when he was named first-team All-Pro. He was so outstanding, in fact, that he was signed away by the Washington Redskins.
After just three seasons in Washington, Stubblefield was back in San Francisco where he belonged.
22. Laveranues Coles, New York Jets
Seriously, Washington? Can't you make any of the players you add to your team happy?
The Redskins signed Laveranues Coles away from the New York Jets after the 2002 season. Coles had a great 2003 season, then basically decided that "this sucks" and forced a trade back to the New York Jets.
21. Alonzo Mourning, Miami Heat
I personally was never the biggest Alonzo Mourning fan, but you couldn't help but to admire his story.
Drafted second overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1992 NBA draft, right after Shaquille O'Neal and right before Christian Laettner, Mourning enjoyed three years in Charlotte before being traded to Miami.
Mourning spent the next seven years in Miami before missing all of the 2002-2003 due to a mystery kidney disease. He came back with the New Jersey Nets in 2003-2004, playing in only 12 games, and started the 2004-2005 season with the Nets as well.
It was during that season, however, that he got traded back to the Heat, and after having failed to play over 37 games for three straight years, 'Zo played in 65 games with the 2005-2006 Heat—along with O'Neal—and Mourning won his first championship.
20. Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals
Rogers Hornsby is in the Hall of Fame as a St. Louis Cardinal, where he spent 12 seasons as a baseball legend and a legendary ass. After the 1926 season Hornsby began to be traded around the league like a hot potato, going from the New York Giants to the Boston Braves to the Chicago Cubs in quick succession.
Seven years after being traded away, Hornsby was re-signed by the Cardinals at the age of 33. He was back with the redbirds just long enough to hit .325, remind everyone that they hated him, and get traded after only 46 games.
19. Kevin Willis, Atlanta Hawks
Kevin Willis was a rookie with the Atlanta Hawks in 1984-1985, and played alongside Antoine Carr, Dominique Wilkins, Tree Rollins, and Doc Rivers, amongst others. He and Moses Malone formed a Twin Towers of sorts from 1988 to 1991. Willis was traded to the Miami Heat during the 1994-1995 season.
It was weird, then, when Willis rejoined the Hawks in 2004-2005, at the age of 42. Rookie teammate Josh Smith wasn't even born yet when Willis made his NBA debut.
18. Luc Robitaille, Los Angeles Kings
NHL Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille began his career with the Los Angeles Kings in 1986, and played there until 1994, when he joined the Pittsburgh Penguins. Three years later, he came back to L.A., but left again after four seasons to join the Detroit Red Wings.
With Detroit he won a Stanley Cup, and returned to L.A. for the last two years of his career.
17. Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees
Frank Sinatra said of New York that "if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere."
Andy Pettitte is living proof of that. In 2004, after nine seasons with the New York Yankees, Pettitte signed with the Houston Astros so he could be closer to home. Pettitte was injured in 2004, was dominant in 2005 for the Astros team that went to the World Series, and then struggled before finishing strong in 2006.
And then, having proven that he could, in fact, make it anywhere, he went back to New York, where he has remained ever since.
16. Minnie Minoso, Chicago White Sox
Minnie Minoso was a Negro Leaguer when Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby broke the color barrier in 1947, and by 1949 he was in the major leagues with Cleveland. After two partial seasons with the Indians (a total of 17 games from 1949 to 1951), Minoso was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 1951.
Doby's playing career spanned three decades, including his nine games in 1949, and his 14 years from 1951 to 1964. He left the White Sox in 1958, then returned in 1960. He left again in 1962, returning in 1964.
And this is where it gets funny.
In 1976, after playing for several years in Mexico, Minoso returned to the White Sox for three games. Minoso's career had now spanned four decades, and he actually collected a base hit, making him the second oldest player (50) to collect a hit in a game.
Then, in 1980, the White Sox brought Minoso back one more time. He went 0-for-2 in two games, but he nevertheless had run his career to five decades.
Minoso has the distinction of having played on teams with Satchel Paige, who made his professional baseball debut in 1926, and Harold Baines, who retired in 2001.
15. Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks
Teemu Selanne began his career with the Winnipeg Jets, but was traded to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, where he spent the next six seasons. After a three-year stop in San Jose and one year in Colorado, Selanne returned to the Mighty Ducks in 2005-2006, and in 2006-2007 Selanne and the Ducks won the Stanley Cup.
14. Moses Malone, Philadelphia 76ers
Moses Malone made 10 different stops during his 21-year nomadic professional basketball career. In 1982-1983, his first year with the Philadelphia 76ers, Malone infamously predicted that the Sixers would sweep through the playoffs, going "fo-fo-fo," meaning each round of the playoffs would only take the minimum four games.
Malone left the Sixers in 1986 after four seasons, but in 1993, after what seemed an eternity, Malone returned to the City of Brotherly Love.
Unfortunately, Malone had a very limited role on a very bad team.
13. Christy Mathewson, Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds got screwed by Christy Mathewson on both ends.
Mathewson played in 1900 for a minor league team in Norfolk, Virginia. The New York Giants were enamored with Mathewson, so they bought him from the team, but he performed so poorly with the Giants they sent him back.
The Reds then quickly signed Mathewson away from the Norfolk team and the Giants, who still coveted Mathewson, traded Amos Rusie to the Reds to get Mathewson back.
Rusie played exactly three games for the Reds, going 0-1 with an 8.59 ERA, while Mathewson spent the next 16 seasons putting together one of the top ten pitching careers of all time.
At the end of his career, Mathewson was traded back to Cincinnati, where he played in one game, pitching all nine innings while allowing 15 hits and eight earned runs.
It would be the last game of his career.
12. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Remember when Bobby Ewing died on Dallas?
The back story was that actor Patrick Duffy wanted more money and wanted to pursue other opportunities, so he left the show and they killed off his character.
Except...more money and other opportunities never materialized, and Duffy needed his old job back. So, the writers of Dallas decided to pretend that the entire season that Bobby had been dead was really just a bad dream had by his wife, played by Victoria Principal.
That's what Steve Nash's time with the Dallas Mavericks was like. The Phoenix Suns seem content to pretend it was all a dream.
11. Rickey Henderson, Oakland Athletics
Rickey Henderson became a baseball superstar with the Oakland Athletics from 1979 to 1984. The A's then traded Henderson to the New York Yankees for, amongst other players, Eric Plunk.
Five years later, Henderson was traded back to the A's for, again amongst other players, Eric Plunk. Henderson and the A's would win the World Series, and Rickey would win the AL MVP the following year.
Then, in 1993, Henderson was traded again, this time to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays won the World Series, and Rickey got a second ring.
And as his reward, in the offseason he was signed as a free agent by...wait for it...the Oakland A's.
Henderson repeated the trick one more time, giving him a total of four different stints with the Oakland A's.
10. Mark Messier, New York Rangers
OK, so Mark Messier will really live on in all of our minds as an Edmonton Oiler more so than as a New York Ranger.
Nevertheless, Messier was a Ranger from 1991-1997, and even hoisted the Stanley Cup with the team in 1994. Messier joined the Vancouver Canucks from 1997 to 2000 before finishing his career back with the Rangers from 2000 to 2004.
9. Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
Allen Iverson was one of the greatest players in Philadelphia 76ers, and perhaps NBA history from 1996 to 2007. He was also a pain in the rear, and the 76ers parted ways with him after standing for more than enough hi-jinx from their erstwhile superstar.
Iverson spent two years in Denver before being traded to Detroit for most of the 2008-2009 season. Iverson then signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, but upon hearing that they didn't plan to play him at all (which seems like something you talk about before you sign your contract) he got the Grizzlies to let him out of his deal.
In one of the most apathetic moments in Philadelphia sports in the last decade, the Sixers and Iverson both realized around the same time that neither party had any prospects or anywhere to be, so they may as well team up again.
It was nice to have Iverson back in the Sixers jersey, though nothing came of it.
8. Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins
Mario Lemieux has had an amazing career with Pittsburgh. Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with cancer, missing most of 1993-1994 and all of 1994-1995. Mario Lemieux returned, was awesome for two years, then retired and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mario Lemieux bought the Penguins, then decided the only way the Penguins will be good again is if they had him.
It was nice, for a few years in the 21st century, to feel like we were back in the 1980s.
7. Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves
Bobby Cox was really awful as the manager of the Atlanta Braves. They finished above .500 only once, and finished either fourth, fifth, or sixth every year that he was there.
The first time.
Cox's first stint as Braves manager ended in 1981. He would return nine years later, in 1990, and begin one of the great managerial runs in baseball history.
6. Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
Magic Johnson never left the Los Angeles Lakers for another team, but rather he retired from the team after attaining the HIV virus. It was thought that he'd never play again, but five years later, with Magic healthy as an ox and HIV-related fears in the NBA relaxed a bit, Magic returned to the Lakers for 32 games.
It was nice to see him back in the uniform, even if nothing came of it.
5. Joe Morgan, Houston Astros
In a way, of all the reasons to hate Joe Morgan, this might be the biggest.
From 1963 to 1971, Joe Morgan was a good-not-great second baseman for the Houston Astros. Then the Astros trade him to the Cincinnati Reds for not much at all in return, and Morgan peels off six of the greatest second baseman seasons of all time.
In 1980, with the Big Red Machine days over, Morgan takes his three World Series rings and two NL MVPs back to Houston, where he kind of sucks again.
4. Ken Griffey, Jr., Seattle Mariners
Ken Griffey Jr. left Seattle, where he'd become an international superstar and surefire Hall of Famer, to go to Cincinnati. What followed was one of the most snake-bitten decades in baseball history, as Griffey literally couldn't stay on the field because of injuries.
Seeing him back in a Seattle Mariners uniform had a calming effect, but by then his career was over.
3. Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings
Fran Tarkenton had perhaps the strangest career path in NFL history. He spent the first six seasons of his career in Minnesota, establishing himself as the greatest quarterback in franchise history before being traded to the New York Giants.
He then spent his prime years, ages 27 to 31, with the G-Men before being traded back to the Minnesota Vikings, where he played for seven more seasons. In his final season, he led the NFL in attempts, completions, yards, and yards per game.
2. Willie Mays, New York Mets
OK, so the Say Hey Kid didn't leave his team and then return. However, Willie did spend the beginning of his career with the New York Giants, and moved with the team to San Francisco, so it was only fitting that Mays went back to New York for the last two seasons of his career.
1. Hank Aaron, Milwaukee Brewers
OK, so Hammerin' Hank didn't leave his team and then return. However, Hank did spend the majority of his career with the Milwaukee Braves, and moved with the team to Atlanta, so it was only fitting that Aaron went back to Milwaukee for the last two seasons of his career.
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