Brett Favre and the 10 Worst Comeback Failures in Sports
If there is one thing we know about professional athletes, it is that some of them will require someone literally rip the jersey off their back.
Quite often throughout sports history we have seen athletes hang around for too long or more notably make a post-retirement comeback. Often times, that comeback has been futile at best, and only left a bizarre blemish on the record of a great career.
Those moments are ones we tried to blot out from our memory, but nevertheless the legacy of these athletes could not be correctly told without mentioning their forgettable and sometimes painful comebacks.
Honorable Mention: Brett Favre
Oh, it wasn't all bad for Favre. His comeback wasn't so much of a failure as it was simply annoying for millions of football fans who simply wanted him gone.
Favre did lead an overachieving Jets team to a surprising 9-7 record and brought the Vikings to the doorstep of their first Super Bowl in over 30 years. Along the way, Favre broke numerous NFL records and nearly returned to the Super Bowl, which would have achieved the purpose of his comeback.
But Favre failed to reach the ultimate stage, which makes his comeback at least a personal disappointment.
10. Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong made a valiant and heroic return from cancer to become a seven-time Tour de France champion, but that is not what this slide is about.
In 2010, Armstrong decided that he would ride again in the Tour. Even after finishing third in his first comeback in 2009, expectations were somewhat tempered. But even Armstrong had to believe he would not finish a disappointing 23rd, nearly 40 minutes behind champion Alberto Contador.
Armstrong was barely in contention for the entire race, becoming a blip on the leaderboard and nothing more than a passing mention in the American media during the race.
In years ahead, no one will remember Lance's last futile race. For now, we prefer to remember him as the giant who dominated France for seven straight years.
9. Michael Jordan
The further removed we are from the time, the less people remember Michael Jordan and the Wizards' years. Nonetheless, MJ's appearance in Wizards blue was just disappointing to say the least, and painful at the worst.
Without his trademark hops and explosiveness, Jordan often showed his age and just looked completely out of place. He did have his moments—like becoming the oldest person to ever score 40 points in an NBA game—but he simply didn't have the legs to carry the Wizards as much as they hoped during his two seasons.
He still averaged over 20 points and five rebounds per game during his time in Washington, but it simply wasn't the same. In the end, most hoops fans wished Jordan hadn't added the Wizards Years to his legacy.
8. Evander Holyfield
Holyfield recently won the WBF heavyweight belt, becoming one of the oldest heavyweight champions ever at age 47. However, how much weight does that really carry considering the man he took the belt from, Francois Botha, was 41 years old at the time?
Holyfield is nearly two decades removed from his prime and should have and/or would have quit a long time ago if not for horrible money management.
Though he has never really retired, Holyfield has taken seven of his 10 career losses in the last 11 years and is just 7-7-1 over that time.
The story of the punch drunk boxer is a cautionary tale. We don't know what the future has in store for Holyfield, but it likely won't be pretty.
7. Rickey Henderson
How do we remember Rickey Henderson? We remember him as the mouthy, rainbow-pattern Oakley wearing, tight panted base stealing phenomenon with the Athletics and Yankees.
Unfortunately, Rickey kept living that dream for years after he left the A's in 1995. After 16 years in the big leagues, he bounced around numerous teams with varied success before parting Major League Baseball in 2003.
But that wasn't enough. Henderson made one last comeback with the Newark Bears of the Independent League and the San Diego Surf Dawgs of the Golden Baseball League. Henderson piled up stats in both independent leagues, but eventually had to have his jersey ripped off his back.
6. Dave Cowens
Cowens is a Celtics all-time great who led the Green to two NBA titles during his 10 years in Boston, helping to bridge the gap from the Bill Russell years to the Larry Bird Era. Cowens averaged 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game during his career before retiring from the Celtics in 1980.
However, Cowens was coaxed out of retirement to play for the Milwaukee Bucks in 1982. His production was a far cry from what fans were used to seeing in Boston. Cowens averaged 8.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game during his one season with the Bucks, never quite understanding himself and why he came out of retirement in the first place.
We don't get it either.
5. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson had to know he simply didn't have the skills and intimidation he once did after losing consecutive fights to Evander Holyfield in 1996 and 1997, including the latter "Bite Fight".
Tyson never officially retired, and the former heavyweight champ kept on plugging away and it was never the same. Tyson went 5-3, plus two no contests, over his last 10 fights, including being knocked out by Lennox Lewis in 2002 when he was clearly overmatched.
He finally bowed out of boxing after he was knocked out in his second to last fight and TKO'd in his final fight by the guy with the back roll and spare tire (Kevin McBride) pictured above.
4. Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali was nothing like his former self by the time 1978 rolled around. A loss to Leon Spinks in February of that year appeared to be the end of the Greatest. That was until he won back his WBA title by defeating Spinks later in the year.
However, at that point Ali seemed to be finished. He retired and vacated the title in September 1979, but that wasn't enough.
Ali returned to the ring in 1980 but lost his last two fights to Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick before finally calling it a career. Ali, who was 38 years old at the time of the fights, lost to the then 26-year-old Berbick and 31-year-old Holmes, showing he had neither the legs nor the vigor to keep up with his younger competition.
3. Bob Cousy
Celtics legendary point guard Bob Cousy was part of six NBA championship teams during the 1950s and 1960s before retiring as one of the game's greatest players in 1963.
But that apparently was not enough for Cousy, who returned with the Cincinnati Royals for a very short-lived tenure in 1969. Cousy suited up for the Royals and scored five TOTAL points in 34 minutes over seven games before hanging them up for good.
"I did it for the money. I was made the offer I couldn't refuse," Cousy famously said of his time in Cincinnati.
2. Jim Palmer
In 1991—seven years after his retirement—Jim Palmer attempted a comeback with the Orioles. The man who won 268 games, three Cy Young Awards, three World Series and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990 wanted to see what he had left in the tank.
Palmer's return lasted all of two innings of spring training play, during which he gave up two runs on five hits before immediately giving up on his comeback.
1. Bjorn Borg
Borg won 11 Grand Slam titles before he retired in 1983. Yet, Borg came back for more in 1993, at 37 years old, but did it under very unusual circumstances.
Instead of going with the more modern rackets, Borg stuck with his wood racket and proceeded to lose 12 straight times over two years in the first round of ATP events. He finally retired for good in 1993 and stuck to the senior tour.