Right athletes, wrong jerseys
These athletes became iconic sports figures with one team, then switched uniforms late in their careers. In most cases, they experienced very little success. Either way, it never looked quite right when you saw these athletes in different jerseys, did it?
Broadway Joe made the biggest guarantee in sports history and actually backed it up when he led the New York Jets over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969. Namath spent the first 12 years of his Hall of Fame career in New York and then . . .
. . . was waived at the end of the 1976 season and signed with the Los Angeles Rams. He played four games in 1977, the last of which ended with four interceptions against the Bears.
Drafted No. 1 overall by the Knicks in 1985, Ewing revitalized the franchise. Although he never brought a title to New York, he was the anchor of the 1990s Knicks teams until . . .
. . . he was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics after the 1999-2000 season. It's considered the symbolic move that led to a woeful decade for the Knicks. Ewing played one year in Seattle and one for the Orlando Magic before retiring in 2002.
Drafted in 1998, Peyton Manning played 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and was released by the team after missing the 2011 season because of neck problems that required four surgeries in the two years. Manning left the Colts with a 1-1 record in Super Bowls and as the NFL's active leader in passing yards (54,828), touchdowns (399) and completions (4,682). Then, on March 20, 2012 . . .
. . . this occurred.
Mays was an icon in New York, then an icon in San Francisco when the Giants moved west in 1958. Considered one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game, Mays could run, hit and throw. The Hall-of-Famer retired with the second most career home runs. Of those 660 homers, . . .
. . . he hit 14 of them for the New York Mets from 1972-73.
From the beard to the "Immaculate Reception" to the four Super Bowl rings, it's all about the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Steelers when it comes to Harris. Except, of course, for 1984 and . . .
. . . those 170 rushing yards in eight games for the Seattle Seahawks.
A Hall-of-Fame running back, Thomas is synonymous with the four straight AFC championships of the Buffalo Bills. He's the only player in NFL history to lead the league in total yards from scrimmage for four consecutive seasons. Guess which four? Thomas eclipsed the 12,000-rushing mark for his career as . . .
. . . a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2000.
"Joe Cool" threw 11 touchdown passes while winning all four Super Bowls he played in with the San Francisco 49ers from 1979-92, including five TDs against Denver in Super Bowl XXIV. One of the NFL's best quarterbacks ever, Montana led the league in completion percentage five times, was a three-time Super Bowl MVP and two-time league MVP. In 2000, he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but not before . . .
. . . playing the 1993 and 1994 seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs. He went 17-8 as a starter, threw for more 5,400 yards and had 29 touchdown passes in those two seasons.
During his 12 years in the NHL, 10 with the Boston Bruins, Orr revolutionized the position of defenseman with his speed, stick skills and scoring ability. He led the NHL in goals twice, assists five times and points twice. To Boston fans and residents, Orr was considered "the man," the guy every kid emulated on the ice. Which is why 1976-79 . . .
. . . felt so weird with Orr wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweater.
This man re-invented the game of baseball and became America's first true sports icon. The phrase "out of left field" was created because of Ruth, since he rendered the left-fielder useless during his at-bats. And he did all that for 15 seasons while wearing the Yankees uniform. Of course, there was the whole Boston thing and the Curse of the Bambino before that, but let's not forget . . .
. . . 1938 and his season as first-base coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
George won the offensive rookie of the year award with the Houston Oilers, then continued to excel when the franchise moved and became the Tennessee Titans. He never missed a start due to injury between 1996-2003. He totaled 10,441 rushing yards for his career, but . . .
. . . the last 432 of them came in 13 games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2004.
Selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, Malone played 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz. He was a dominant power forward and one half of Utah's perfect pick-and-roll with point guard John Stockton. Malone retired after the 2003-04 season with an NBA best 11,406 career defensive rebounds. And . . .
. . . he grabbed 306 of those defensive boards while playing 42 games for the Lakers in 2003-04. He reached the NBA finals that season but the Lakers lost to Detroit and prevented Malone from earning a ring.
After 20 years on defense for the Bruins, Bourque is as Bostonian as Ted Williams, Tom Brady and Bill Russell. He's the all-time NHL leader in shots with 6,206. But here's the thing . . .
. . . 216 of those shots came in his final season (1999-2000) while he won his first and only Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
The No. 1 overall pick in 1984, "The Dream" spent 16 seasons with the Houston Rockets where he won two NBA titles and made 11 all-star appearances. As a rookie, he led the NBA in offensive rebounds with 440 and personal fouls with 344. Twice he led the NBA in total rebounding and blocks. Then came . . .
. . . the 2001-02 season with the Toronto Raptors before he retired.
Unitas spent 17 seasons quarterbacking the Baltimore Colts and himself into immortality. He led the NFL touchdown passes four times and passer rating three times. Then came . . .
. . . 1973, the trade and the San Diego Chargers. He retired after playing in just five games that season.
Baseball's last .400 hitter, "The Splendid Splinter" finished his 19-year career with a .344 average for Boston. His .485 career on-base percentage is the best in major league history. Williams, a left fielder, is to the Boston Red Sox as Joe DiMaggio is the New York Yankees. "Teddy Ballgame" was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with 93.4 percent of the vote in 1966 . . .
. . . which was three years prior to being named manager of the Washington Senators. He managed the team from 1969-71 and was named the AL Manager of the Year in 1969.
Smith was the star in Dallas, totaling three Super Bowl wins and an NFL record 17,132 yards in his 13 seasons there, and then . . .
. . . this happened. Smith spent two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, adding 1,193 yards to his NFL-record 18,355 rushing yards.
Rice played 16 seasons for San Francisco and made 12 Pro Bowls. Oh yeah, he also cultivated his reputation as the best receiver in modern NFL history. His 197 career touchdowns are the most in NFL history, a total he added to . . .
by playing three-plus seasons with the Oakland Raiders and 11 games with the Seattle Seahawks in 2004.
On the play shown above against the Jets at Shea Stadium in 1973, Simpson broke the NFL single-season rushing record. He finished the game with 198 yards and the season with 2,003 yards. Of the six players in the 2,000-yard club, only Simpson did it in 14 games. In nine seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Simpson led the NFL in rushing four times and touchdowns twice. Then came . . .
. . . two seasons, four touchdowns and 1,058 rushing yards with the San Francisco 49ers.
Jordan elevated the art of the slam dunk and revolutionized the way sports companies marketed products to customers. Along the way, he won six NBA titles and is considered by many to be the best player in history. And then . . .
. . . this happened, from 2001-03, but not before . . .
. . . this happened in 1994. Jordan retired from the NBA before the 1993-94 season and took up baseball in 1994. He hit .202 in 127 games with Class AA Birmingham Barons of the Chicago White Sox minor-league system.
For 16 seasons and 442 touchdown passes, this was the iconic Brett Favre image - a gunslinger in green-and-gold. Then along came . . .
. . . this green-and-white hiccup that most Jets fans wish to forget, followed by . . .
. . . one career year in Minnesota in 2009 (career-best 68.4 percent completion rate, 4,202 yards, 33 TDs, career-low 7 INTs), and then the end of his consecutive starts streak in 2010, followed by another presumably last retirement announcement.