Ten athletes to retire champions in the last 20 years
In what was his final career game, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning led his team to a 24–10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Manning will reportedly announce his retirement from the NFL on Monday, after weeks of mulling his decision. The No. 1 pick in the 1998 NFL draft out of Tennessee, Manning won four MVP awards with the Indianapolis Colts and led them to a Super Bowl victory in 2006 before becoming the first starting quarterback in league history to win a title with two different teams. He retires as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns and passing yards.
“The Sheriff” follows in the footsteps of several Hall of Fame athletes who have gone out on top. Here’s a list of players that have managed to end their careers on a high note in recent years.
John Elway, 1999
Elway led the Broncos to a 31–24 win over the Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII, and earned game MVP honors for his 336-yard performance.
Floyd Mayweather, 2015
Mayweather defeated Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision on May 2, 2015 to improve to 47–0 over his career. In September, he announced his retirement.
Landon Donovan, 2014
Donovan won his sixth MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy on Dec. 7, 2014 in what would be his final career match.
Michael Strahan, 2008
The seven-time Pro Bowler walked away after the Giants’ 17–14 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He recorded two tackles and one sack in the game.
David Robinson, 2003
“The Admiral” led the San Antonio Spurs to a 2003 NBA Finals win over the New Jersey Nets. In San Antonio’s series-clinching Game 6 win, he scored 13 points and pulled down 17 rebounds.
Ray Lewis, 2012
Lewis won his second Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2012, capping off a memorable postseason that included a playoff-high 55 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass deflection in six games.
Dominik Hasek, 2008
Five days after winning his second Stanley Cup with the Red Wings, Hasek walked away from hockey on June 9, 2008. The six-time Vezina Trophy winner would come out of retirement to play overseas in 2009, but never returned to the NHL.
Jerome Bettis, 2006
The six-time Pro Bowl running back rushed for 43 yards on 14 carries in a 21–10 win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. He finished his career with over 13,000 yards on the ground.
Ray Bourque, 2001
Bourque’s long 22-year quest for a title came to an end in 2001 when the Colorado Avalanche beat the New Jersey Devils in seven games to take home the Stanley Cup. Though he spent 20-plus seasons with the Bruins, the image of Bourque lifting the cup in an Avalanche uniform is lasting.
Pete Sampras, 2002
Sampras ended a two-year Grand Slam drought by defeating Andre Agassi 6–3, 6–4, 5–7, 6–4 in the 2002 U.S. Open Final and retired with 14 major titles.