Notable athletes who decided to hang it up and ride into the sunset.
Compiled by Anthony Castellano
Anderson, considered by many as one of the most consistent hitters of his era, retired after 17 seasons in baseball. Anderson played 15 seasons with the Angels and guided them to a World Series win in 2002 over the Giants. The four-time All-Star won two Silver Slugger awards and finished with a .293 average with 2,529 hits, 287 home runs and 1,365 RBIs. Between 2000-03, Anderson averaged 30 home runs and 120 RBIs with a .299 average in the middle of the lineup for manager Mike Scioscia.
American cyclist Lance Armstrong, who won an unprecedented seven consecutive Tour de France titles (1999-2005), ended his career in February. Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer and launched the Livestrong bands into pop culture, was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 2002. Upon retiring, Armstrong still faces a federal investigation into doping allegations.
After four Stanley Cups and 20 seasons in the NHL, Kris Draper retired. Draper was a member of what was known as the “Grind Line” with the Red Wings, which also included Kirk Maltby and either Joe Kocur or Darren McCarty. Draper spent 17 seasons with the Red Wings and appeared in 1,137 games with 158 goals, 203 assists and 361 points. The former center won the Frank J. Selke Trophy, given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
A knee injury during the 2010-11 season ended the 12-year career of Chris Drury. The former Buffalo Sabres and Rangers captain won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. After scoring 37 goals for Buffalo during the 2006-07 season, Drury’s production dropped as he scored 25, 22 and 14 goals during his time with the Rangers.
Edmonds ended his 17-year career in Feburary after signing a minor-league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, a team he spent eight seasons with. Edmonds was known for his circus-like catches in centerfield, which earned him eight Gold Gloves. He hit 393 home runs, had 1,199 RBIs and batted .284 for the Cardinals, Angels, Padres, Reds, Cubs and Brewers.
Faneca, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection at left guard, ended his 13-year career after playing the 2010 season with the Cardinals. Faneca was drafted by the 26th pick in the 1998 draft by the Steelers. He would help them win Super Bowl XL over the Seattle Seahawks before signing a five-year, $40 million contract with the Jets in 2008. The deal was the richest for an NFL lineman. Faneca spent two seasons in New York and was cut to clear salary cap space.
Another Brett Favre retirement? Don?t roll your eyes as this one seems legit. The three-time MVP (and three-time retiree) called it quits in January after 20 seasons in the NFL. Favre spent 16 seasons with the Packers and led them to two Super Bowl appearances, winning XXXI. After retiring in 2008, Favre wanted to return but the Packers gave the job to the quarterback-in-waiting Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay traded Favre to the Jets, where he spent the 2008 season before playing two seasons with the Vikings, where he led them to the NFC Championship game in 2009. ?The Gunsliger? holds many records upon retirement including career touchdown passes (508), passing yards (71,838), competitions (6,300) and interceptions (336). Favre is football?s version of Lou Gehrig, starting in 297 consecutive games at one position.
Foote played his last game on April 10, 2011, marking the end of his 19-year career. The defensemen played the majority of his career with the Colorado Avalanche where he won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001. He was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques, who later relocated to Colorado. During two stints with the Avalanche, he played in a franchise-record 1,966 games.
After two Stanley Cups and 19 years in the NHL, Peter Forsberg retired as one of the top Swedish hockey players of all-time. Forsberg, who ranks 10th all-time in career points per game, won the Hart Memorial Trophy and Art Ross Trophy in 2003 for the Colorado Avalanche (29 goals, 77 assists). He helped Sweden to gold medals at the 1994 and 2006 Olympics. The Avalanche retired his jersey in October.
After retiring in 2008 as the No. 1 ranked tennis player in the world, Justine Henin returned in 2010 only to retire in January 2011. The Belgian-born tennis player won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including four French Opens, two U.S. Opens and one Australian Open. Henin was ranked No. 1 for 12 consecutive months, something only six other females have ever accomplished.
Hoffman retired in January as the all-time leader in saves (601) until Mariano Rivera passed him during the 2011 season. Hoffman, a seven-time All-Star, is the first closer to reach the 500 and 600-saves milestone. He recorded 40 or more saves in eight of his 18 seasons. The Padres, a team he spent 16 seasons with, retired his number last August.
Very few coaches get to be part of a dynasty in any sport. Phil Jackson is able to say he was the head coach of two dynasties during his 20-year career. From 1989-98, Jackson won six NBA titles coaching the Chicago Bulls, which featured Michael Jordan. From 1999-2004 and 2005-2011, Jackson won five more titles with the L.A. Lakers and Kobe Bryant. In all, his 11 NBA titles are the most by any coach in the history of the league. He also won a title as a player on the 1973 Knicks. ?The Zen Master? had a winning record every year he coached.
Jenkins missed most of his final two seasons with the Jets because of torn ligaments in his knees. But the nose tackle, who played the first seven of his 10 years in the league with the Carolina Panthers, was a solid run-stopper when healthy. In 108 games, he totaled 24 sacks, 10 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 280 total tackles.
Kariya is hanging up the skates after 15 seasons in the NHL with the Mighty Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. He helped the Mighty Ducks to the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Devils in seven games. He served as a captain for seven seasons and was selected to three All-Star games. Kariya, who won back-to-back Lady Byng Memorial Trophies for excellence in sportsmanship, scored 402 goals, 587 assists and 989 points in his career.
TONY LA RUSSA
There’s nothing better than going out on top. La Russa is living proof as he announced his retirement days after the Cardinals’ epic World Series win over the Rangers in seven games. In 33 years as manager, La Russa won three World Series titles and six pennants and his 2,728 wins ranks third all-time. La Russa, a three-time Manager of the Year, won 500 games with three different teams (White Sox, A’s and Cardinals). The only other manager to do that is Hall-of-Famer Leo Durocher.
Kristine Lilly retired after 24 years and 352 games for the U.S. national team -- a record among men and women soccer players. Lilly appeared with the U.S. team in three Olmympics walking away with two gold medals (1996 and 2004).
Shoulder and back problems hampered the righty and forced him to retire prior to the 2011 season with one year left on his five-year, $55 million contract. Meche, only 32 years old, was 84-83 with a 4.49 ERA in 10 seasons with the Mariners and Royals.
The Houston Rockets selected Yao Ming as the first overall pick in the 2002 draft after rising to prominence in the Chinese Basketball Association. The 7’6” center would become an eight-time All-Star and help the Rockets to four playoff appearances. He would become an international star who averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds in eight seasons in the NBA. Yao was plagued with foot and ankle injuries since the 2005-06 season, which forced him to announce his retirement last July.
Modano retired prior to the 2011-12 hockey season after 21 years. He signed a one-day contract with the Dallas Stars so he could retire with the team he spent 20 seasons with. He is the NHL’s all-time goal scorer (561) and points leader (1,364) amongst American-born players.
Prior to the 2011 season, Randy Moss called it a career after 13 seasons in the NFL. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection holds the record for most touchdown receptions in a season with 27. Moss, a first-round draft pick, spent seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before being traded to the Raiders. He finished his career with stints in New England, a return to the Vikings and the Titans. Moss grabbed headlines for actions like squirting a referee with a water bottle, leaving a game early and mooning the crowd in Green Bay.
What can be said about Shaquille O'Neal that he hasn’t probably said about himself already? Shaq carved out a first-ballot Hall of Fame career during 19 seasons in the NBA with the Magic, Lakers, Heat, Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics. O'Neal won three straight NBA titles with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson in Los Angeles before winning one more with Miami in 2006. The Newark, N.J., native was the NBA Finals MVP three times, won the league MVP award in 2000 and was named to 15 All-Star teams. Let’s not forget his off-the-court ventures, some more successful than others: rapper, “Kazaam,” reserve police officer for the LAPD.
Osgood retired in July after 17 years as a goalie for the Red Wings, Islanders and Blues. “Ozzie” won three Stanley Cups (1997-98, 2008) with Detroit and finished with 401 career wins, which ranks 10th all-time. Osgood appeared in 744 games with a 2.49 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and 50 shutouts.
Andy Pettitte was the mark of consistency during his 16-year career with the Yankees (1995-2003, 2007-10) and Astros (2004-06). Pettitte, a three-time All-Star, won 21 games twice in his career and finished with an overall record of 240-138 with a 3.88 ERA. Despite never finishing higher than second in the Cy Young voting, his postseason track record is legendary. His 19 postseason wins is an MLB record, along with games started (42) and innings pitched (263). During the 2009 postseason, Pettitte won the series-clinching game in each round of the playoffs.
Defensemen Brian Rafalski ended his 11-year career after playing for the Devils and Red Wings. Before joining the NHL, Rafalski played four seasons in Europe. Along with Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur, the Devils marched toward the Stanley Cup in his rookie season in 2000 and again in 2003. Rafalski was known for being a solid defensemen who was able to score. Rafalski finished his career with 515 points in 833 games. He was also a member of the Red Wings who won the Stanley Cup in 2003.
Recchi announced his retirement in grand style right after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. He promised he would "sail off into the sunset" if the Bruins beat Vancouver. Not only did he make good on that promise, but at age 43, he became the oldest player to score a goal in the Stanley Cup. For Recchi, it was his third Stanley Cup in his 22-year career. In 1,652 games (4th all-time), Recchi scored 577 goals with 956 assists and 1,533 points (12th all-time).
Many athletes are known by one name today in American professional sports. Very few are known by one name on the international sports stage. Ronaldo is regarded by many as the best soccer player of his generation and a prolific scorer. His resume speaks for itself: Three-time FIFA Player of the Year, 352 goals during his club career, 62 goals in 98 international matches and two World Cup wins for Brazil.
Roy announced his retirement shortly have the lockout was lifted due to a lack of cartilage in his knees. It was an injury that plagued his promising basketball career since college. Roy, a sixth round raft pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves, won Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 while a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 14.5 PPG. The three-time All-Star had his best season in 2008-09 when he averaged 22.6 PPG with 4.7 RPG and 5.1 APG.
Third-base coaches in baseball can now rest easy as Gary Sheffield announced his retirement prior to spring training after not playing in 2010. “Sheff” played for eight different clubs over his 22-year career including three seasons with the Yankees and one for the Mets. The nine-time All-Star hit his 500th home run as a member of the Mets in 2009 at Citi Field. He was a member of the World Series champion Marlins in 1997 and won five Silver Slugger awards and a batting title.
Jerry Sloan resigned as head coach of the Utah Jazz in February amid reports he was having problems with Deron Williams. Sloan was head coach of the Jazz for 23 seasons producing six division championships, 15 consecutive playoff appearances and two trips to the NBA Finals where he lost to the Bulls both times. He won 50 or more games 13 times and his 1,221 wins ranks third all-time. Sloan was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009 along with former long-time player John Stockton.
Matt Stover was one of the NFL’s top kickers during his 19-year career with the Browns, Colts and most notably the Ravens. He ranks ninth in extra points (591), ninth in field-goal perecentage (83.7%), fourth in total field goals made (471) and fourth in total points (2,004). He was a member of the Ravens team that beat the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
Vrabel retired after 14 seasons in the NFL with the Steelers, Patriots and Chiefs. During his eight seasons with the Patriots, he became a main cog in Bill Belichick’s defense helping them win three Super Bowl titles. Vrabel recorded 704 tackles, 57 sacks and 11 interceptions during his Pro-Bowl career. He is currently a linebackers coach for Ohio State.
Weight retired after 19 years in the NHL due to lingering back issues that caused him to miss significant time his last two seasons with the Islanders. The former Islanders captain scored 278 goals with 1,033 points in 1,238 games and was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes team that won the Stanley Cup in 2006. Upon retirement, Weight was named assistant coach and special assistant to Islanders general manager Garth Snow.
After 33 years as a head coach in college basketball for American, Boston College, Ohio State and Maryland, Gary Williams retired from the bench. Williams had much of his success with his alma mater, Maryland, as he won the national championship in 2002. The former two-time ACC Coach of the Year finished with a 668–380 lifetime record (.637 winning percentage).
If you knows an offensive lineman’s name, either you’re a super fan or they did something wrong. Well, after Week 1 of the 2011Jets season, fans remembered Damien Woody’s name — mainly because he had retired and his replacement, Wayne Hunter, was eaten up by DaMarcus Ware of the Cowboys. Woody played 12 seasons at tackle with the Patriots, Lions and Jets (2008-10).