10 Best Ways to Quit Your (Sports) Job

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2017

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 2:  Steve Smith Sr. #89 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

Steve Smith Sr. quit his sports job by sending a brief, witty letter to the NFL commissioner. Kobe Bryant went out by turning back the clock and putting up 60 points in his final game.

Sure, athletes could retire via a stuffy news conference after a lackluster season. Or, they could make a hilarious video. They could—if they're lucky—end their career with a jaw-dropping performance or even a championship.

There are meh ways to go out, and there are great ways to go out. No one in sports has quite hit the peak this video producer did, but if current trends continue, that's where things could be headed. Sports folks have retired spectacularly in the recent past. Here are the 10 best ways to go out.


Via Ominous Social Media Post

Former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch tweeted this during Super Bowl 50:

Shawn Lynch @MoneyLynch

✌🏿 https://t.co/wesip4IhOR

The photo of cleats hanging up led For the Win's Nate Scott to wonder, "Did Marshawn Lynch announce his retirement with this cryptic tweet?"

In short, yes. Who said retirement announcements had to be clear and direct? Leave it to Beast Mode to put his own unique spin on his NFL departure.


Retire 'On the Peak'

Look, it's not that sports fans want to see talented stars retire in their primes. Then again, folks spend plenty of time criticizing the ones who "waited too long," too. So, good for Nico Rosberg for getting out at the top and, more importantly, for doing it his way.

Just five days after winning the Formula One world championship, the 31-year-old German driver announced he was done:

BBC 5 live Sport @5liveSport

"We're all taken aback" Our F1 commentator @jack_nicholls with the latest on Nico Rosberg's retirement https://t.co/ERT3b4UqqX

Per Ben Curtis and Oliver Brown of the Telegraph, he said: "For 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my 'one thing' to become Formula One world champion. Through the hard work, the pain, this has been my target. And now I have made it. I am on the peak, so this feels right."


With a Witty Letter to the Commish

Former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. confirmed his retirement this month after 16 years in the league. Famously outgoing (and unafraid to talk trash), Smith penned a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that was so...him:

Steve Smith Sr @89SteveSmith

It's official my letter to the @NFL #agent89 out ✌ #stevesmithsr #RavensFlock #SSmithWPMOYchallenge https://t.co/CMW2PXDPkd


With a Killer Last Game 

Bryant retired in 2016 after a legendary 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He did make fans endure all the retirement-tour hoopla, but he also went out giving them one final gift. In his last game, a regular-season win over the Utah Jazz, the Mamba dropped 60 points:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

That’s just Kobe being Kobe https://t.co/hMndWMcjQa

Not every athlete leaves the game with a dominant performance. Like David Robinson did with his NBA Finals double-double, Bryant gave fans a glimpse of his former self in his final game. And it was boss.


By Walking into a Better One

Real talk. Alex Rodriguez had a far better 2016 as a sports broadcaster than as an athlete. He batted just .200/.247/.351 in 65 games and retired in August, not even finishing out the regular season.

Rodriguez will surely go down as one of the game's all-time great talents, but his baseball career was tumultuous, to say the least.

The New York Yankees retained him as a special adviser, but A-Rod also joined Fox Sports as an analyst for MLB's postseason coverage, and guess what? People loved him:

A-Rod, likable? That's what a sports career change can do for a guy.


With a Heartfelt Letter

Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasting legend Vin Scully retired in 2016. It was a memorable final season and for Scully, but one of the best things about his retirement was this touching letter he wrote to the fans during his final homestand in September:  

Los Angeles Dodgers @Dodgers

To you, from #VIN.🎙 https://t.co/DNlwUKUmMc

The letter (which can be read here, per Mark Townsend of Big League Stew) was warm, personal and of course included a trademark anecdote from the master storyteller. If you are going to quit your sports job, injecting a little authenticity into the process is a nice way to go.


You Know, Don't

One way to quit your sports job is to not actually quit, as weird as that might sound.

For instance, you could always go the Conor McGregor route and feign retirement when things aren't going great at work:

Conor McGregor @TheNotoriousMMA

I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya's later.

Or, consider the Ray Allen approach: Don't play, but don't announce your retirement either. Allen quit playing but left his door open for a possible comeback for two seasons before officially hanging it up in November.


Fade Quietly into the Night

Drama is overrated. San Antonio Spurs great Tim Duncan also retired in 2016, but to far less fanfare than fellow NBA legend Bryant. In fact, the end of the season came and went, and no one had heard a peep from the Big Fundamental on the subject.

When Duncan did officially retire in July, he did it ultra-chill via "press release (with no direct quotes from Duncan or anyone else)," per Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated:

San Antonio Spurs @spurs

After 19 seasons, Tim Duncan announces retirement » https://t.co/kQimgv8oIB #ThankYouTD https://t.co/aLua8MRZtS

Sometimes, the best way to retire is to just Irish goodbye everybody. Tim Duncan style.


With a Hilarious Video

Clearly, a hilarious retirement video is in the top here. In February, defensive end Jared Allen rode off into the sunset (literally) with this cheeky video:

Jared Allen @JaredAllen69

Riding off into the sunset https://t.co/wZXovseGKS

More recently, former San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner, aka the "Red Mamba," announced his retirement in a slightly quirky yet charming, self-deprecating (in a funny way) video:

Creativity is key, folks.


With a Championship Title

Yes, former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning announced his retirement via the old standby, the news conference. And no, he didn't put up gaudy numbers in his final game (a paltry 141 yards and no touchdown passes, actually). He did, however, go out the way most athletes likely hope to—with a title:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Peyton Manning is a legend. #MakeHistory https://t.co/pJ0NoGOGd9

All the hilarious retirement videos in the world don't equal a championship.


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