When an athlete is great, you remember them for life. You remember where you were when they made the big play, or when they finished their career on a high note.
Some athletes on the other hand, don’t know when it’s time to hang it up.
Brett Favre is a good example, hanging on for one year too many after a legendary career.
This slideshow explores players who were dreadful at their last stop and utterly exhausted at the end.
If I missed any or you can come up with more, let me know! There were a few that didn’t make the list but could have (Patrick Ewing, Babe Ruth, O.J. Simpson, etc.).
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. That is pretty certain.
What is not certain is why Jordan decided to come out of retirement for a third time in 2001.
Jordan was a member of the Washington Wizards front office, and he decided to lace the sneakers up one more time. He spent two seasons with the Wizards but never had much success.
I never thought it was a good move, and the rift that Jordan’s comments left with his teammates was probably at the core of the reason he was let go from the organization.
As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I was sad to see Reggie White leave, but I was glad he won a Super Bowl before he retired.
I was angry when he came back to join the Carolina Panthers.
White did as well as he could, recording 16 tackles and six sacks before finally retiring for good at the end of the season.
Bobby Hull was a great offensive player in the NHL, with a knack for scoring goals.
Hull played many great seasons for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Winnipeg Jets before retiring.
At the age of 40, Hull returned to the ice with the Hartford Whalers for just nine games, before he realized he couldn’t stand the hockey grind any longer.
Tony Dorsett was one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL, and another Dallas Cowboys running back who overstayed his welcome in the NFL.
Dorsett rushed for 12,033 yards during 11 seasons with theCowboys and was a key to their five NFC title games and two Super Bowl appearances (one a win).
At 34, Dallas decided to trade Dorsett to the Denver Broncos and move on from their great runner.
Dorsett led Denver in rushing with 703 yards, but the pounding he absorbed led to his retirement after the season.
I was not a fan of the Utah Jazz, but it hurt even me to see Karl Malone leave the team. Malone spent 18 seasons with the Jazz and was the face of the franchise.
I understand he wanted to win a championship, but I couldn’t stand him in Lakers yellow.
Malone went to the Finals with the Lakers in 2004, but didn’t play much because of knee troubles.
After that season, Malone retired for good.
After being released by the struggling Dallas Cowboys on February 27, 2003, Emmitt Smith signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
In two seasons with the Cardinals, Smith only managed under 1000 years total rushing and retired soon after.
Smith signed with the Cowboys at the end of his career, to retire as a Cowboy, but he would have been smart to retire in 2003.
It always hurts when a star that spends his whole career with a team leaves at the very end.
Hakeem Olajuwon was one of the best centers the NBA ever had, reaching the all-star team in 12 of his 17 seasons playing with the Houston Rockets.
Olajuwon went to the Toronto Raptors and struggled, before retiring after the Raptors lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Bobby Orr was the best defenseman to play in the NHL, and is one of the top five players in the history of the sport.
In my mind, Orr will always be a Boston Bruin, but on June 9, 1976, he broke Boston’s collective heart.
Orr signed a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, but managed to only play 26 games for the team.
Bobby Orr was forced to retire because of severely damaged knees, but he was still one of the most dominant players in NHL history.
Willie Mays was, and always will be, a San Francisco Giant.
On a fateful day in 1972, a 41 year old Willie Mays was dealt to the New York Mets for a pitcher and some cash.
Mays hit pretty well but was a shell of his former self before finally calling it quits a year later.
Certain players just taint their legacy by stretching their careers beyond its limit.
Jerry Rice was the greatest receiver of all time.
The NFL needed Jerry Rice for years, but they didn’t need the end of his career.
After leaving San Francisco, Rice played in Oakland and had some success.
After that, he travelled to Seattle and played poorly. That was the end of his career, even though it came three years too late.