Biggest Retirements of 2010
Urban Meyer is stepping down as Florida coach -- this time for good. One year after resigning the post and then abruptly changing his mind, Meyer announced his intention to leave college coaching in order to focus on his family and non-football interests. "Sometimes, we make it too complex," Meyer said in his Dec. 8 announcement. "At the end of the day, I'm very convinced that you're going to be judged by how you are as a husband and as a father and not by how many bowl games you've won." Meyer led the Gators to national championships in 2006 and '08, but went just 7-5 during a frustrating 2010 season.
Joe Torre stepped down as Dodgers manager after three years in L.A. and 29 on a big league bench. He went to the postseason 15 times, including 12 straight with the Yankees from 1996-2007, when he won four World Series titles, and two with the Dodgers.
One of two managers with six 100-win seasons, Atlanta's venerable Bobby Cox has said 2010 will be his last season as a manager. He led the Braves to the 1995 World Series title and guided Atlanta to a record 14 consecutive division titles, from 1991 to 2005. The four-time manager of the year also oversaw the Toronto Blue Jays for four seasons, beginning in 1982.
"Sweet" Lou Piniella announced on August 22 that he was coaching his last game. He managed in the Major Leagues for 23 seasons, amassing a 1835-1713 record at the helm of the Yankees, Reds, Devil Rays, Cubs and Seattle Mariners. In Seattle, Piniella managed one of the best teams in baseball history in 2001, but was never able to bring a championship to the Pacific Northwest. Piniella won the 1990 World Series with the Reds and won 90 or more games eight different times.
After a 12-year career that spanned three franchises -- the St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals -- two-time MVP quarterback Kurt Warner announced his retirement at 38. He finished with a career 32,344 yards passing and 208 touchdowns in a storied career that saw him go from working as a grocery store clerk to playing in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe before joining St. Louis in 1998. He led the Rams to a Super Bowl win in 2000, took them back to the big game in 2002 and led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2009.
An original member of the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" team that made two Super Bowls, Isaac Bruce's 16-year career included 14 seasons in St. Louis. Bruce holds Rams career records for receptions (942), receiving yards (14,109) and receiving touchdowns (84), and was a favorite target of fellow 2010 retiree Kurt Warner. The two hooked up for the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXXIV. After two sub-par seasons in San Francisco, Bruce -- a four-time Pro Bowl selection -- was traded back to St. Louis in June 2010 so that he could retire as a Ram at age 37.
Ken Griffey Jr.
A 13-time All-Star, winner of 10 consecutive Gold Gloves and the 1997 AL MVP, Griffey ends his career as sixth on the all-time home run list with 630. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1987 draft, Griffey played 22 seasons with the Mariners, Reds and White Sox.
With 303 wins and a career ERA of 3.29 over 22 seasons, Randy Johnson retired in January as one of the game's most recognizable and accomplished figures. The Big Unit was a five-time Cy Young Award winner, 10-time All Star and ranks second in career strikeouts. He owns a World Series ring and co-MVP honors, and threw two no-hitters, including a perfect game.
Arguably the greatest American-born hockey player of all-time, Chelios retired at 48 as the second-oldest active NHL player ever, and the longest-tenured defenseman (26) of all time. He won three Norris Trophies as the league's best blueliner, and three Stanley Cups -- two with Detroit and one with Montreal -- and also led Chicago to the 1992 Cup final. He is the only NHL player to ever appear in 400 games with three different teams and he represented the U.S. at four Winter Olympics, including three as team captain.
One of the finest offensive defensemen of his era, Scott Niedermayer's mantelpiece is covered with gleaming baubles. He's believed to be the only hockey player in history to have won the Stanley Cup (1995, 2000, 2003, 2007), Olympic gold medals (two, including the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver), a World Championship, the World Cup, the Memorial Cup, and the World Junior championship. During his 18 years in the NHL with the Devils and Ducks, the swift-skating workhorse won the 2004 Norris Trophy (best defenseman), accumulated 172 goals and 568 assists, and only missed the playoffs twice. Upon his retirement, he said his fairy tale moment came in 2007 when he won the Stanley Cup with his younger brother, Rob, while skating for the Ducks.
A four time All-Star forward, Wallace decided to end his 15-year NBA career after his Celtics bowed out in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Wallace played for five teams in his career, but most successful was his tenure with the Detroit Pistons. After being traded from the Atlanta Hawks mid-season in 2004, Wallace helped the Pistons win their first championship since 1990 in a five-game upset of the Lakers. Wallace averaged 13 points and nearly eight rebounds per game in that series. He will perhaps be remembered most for his always-publicized confrontations with officials, retiring as the NBA's all-time leader in technical fouls.
The face of American softball, Jennie Finch announced she would retire after the conclusion of the National Pro Fastpitch season in August. Finch's dazzling looks and unhittable stuff on the mound helped her become an American softball icon and spread the sport's popularity through the country. Finch won two Olympic medals, in 2004 and 2008, and led the United States to its seventh consecutive world championship in July 2010.
Following a season-ending loss to Francesca Schiavone at the WTA Championships in Qatar in October, Elena Dementieva announced her retirement in a tearful on-court ceremony. A two-time Grand Slam runner-up, Dementieva made it to No. 3 in the rankings and captured Olympic gold at the Beijing Games, but never bagged that elusive Grand Slam title.
Given that the 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker has announced his retirement before and come back, you have to take what he says with a grain of salt. But he is 41 and only made 15 tackles last season as a backup with the Patriots. If 2009 was the last call, he goes out with 56.5 sacks, 18 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and 1,849 tackles.
Gagne retired with 187 saves over a 10-year MLB career. For the majority of his career, he served as the Dodgers' closer, but also pitched sparingly for Boston, Texas and Milwaukee in the late 2000s. In 2003, Gagne won the National League Cy Young Award as Los Angeles' closer, converting all 55 of his save opportunities (part of a three-year period over which he was 84-for-84). But his name was dragged through the mud when it was mentioned in the infamous Mitchell Report, effectively ending his playing career.
A respected, veteran leader of 21 NHL seasons, Rod Brind'Amour played a key role as team captain in bringing the Stanley Cup to Carolina in 2006. A top face-off specialist and two-time winner of the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward, Brind'Amour was drafted in the first round (9th overall) by St. Louis in 1988. His career totals include 452 goals and 732 assists compiled while playing for the Blues, Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes, with whom he retires as the franchise's leading scorer since its move from Hartford in 1997.
The NHL's best defensive forward in 1997 and 2002 and a gold medalist with Canada's 2002 Olympic hockey team, Michael Peca officially ended his 13 years in professional hockey in mid-January. He played in 864 games with six teams (Vancouver, Buffalo, New York Islanders, Edmonton, Toronto and Columbus), scoring 176 goals and 289 assists for 465 points. He was on 10 playoff teams and two Stanley Cup finalists.
One of the NHL's premier power forwards for 18 seasons, the hard-nosed Tkachuk began his career at age 19 with the Winnipeg Jets and concluded it with the St. Blues. In between, the five-time All-Star scored 538 goals (good for 30th all time in league history) and became the first American-born player to lead the NHL in goals (52, for the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996-97).
Cito Gaston announced after last season he would manage one final year to fulfill his contract. He managed the Blue Jays for two stints: from 1989 to '97 and again from 2008 to 2010. He won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, becoming the first African-American manager to win a World Series.
A two-time batting champion and six-time All Star, Nomar Garciaparra decided to hang up his cleats after 14 seasons. During his heyday, Garciaparra completed the shortstop holy trinity with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. He signed a one-day minor league contract with Boston so he could retire a Red Sox.
Saying he had to get baseball out of his system before making the announcement, the Big Hurt confirmed in February that his one year away from the game wasn't just an abbreviated break. The five-time Al-Star hit 521 homers and won two AL MVP awards in 19 seasons, 16 with the Chicago White Sox.
A seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker and five-time First-Team All-Pro, Thomas racked up more than 1,100 tackles over a 12-year career spent mostly in Miami. For more than a decade, Thomas served as the backbone of the Dolphins' stingy defense at middle linebacker. He played in just five games with the Cowboys in 2008, and was cut after a preseason stint with the Chiefs in 2009. One of just three players in the NFL's modern era to register more than 100 tackles in each of his first 10 seasons in the league, Thomas signed a one-day contract with Miami in late May to retire a Dolphin. "The game has been good to me," he said.
Making official what many had presumed to be the case for over a year, Derrick Brooks announced on his web site in August 2010 that he's not returning. Brooks played 14 seasons, helping transform Tampa Bay from a franchise that had been the laughingstock of the NFL into Super Bowl champions. He was the NFL defensive player of the year in 2002, the season the Bucs won the Super Bowl.
A member of two Stanley Cup champions (2009 Penguins, 1995 Devils), Guerin was drafted fifth overall out of Boston College in 1989 by New Jersey and played for eight NHL teams during the course of 18 seasons. He scored 25 goals or more eight times and finished with career totals of 429 goals and 856 points in 1,263 games. Regarded as one of the best American forwards of all time, he was also a member of 1998, 2002 and 2006 U.S. Olympic hockey teams.
Drafted in the fourth round (70th overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, the 6-4, 225-pound blueliner went on to score 240 goals and 777 points during his 20-year NHL career. His 136 power-play goals rank third all time among defenseman, behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (173) and Al MacInnis (166). Blake was a seven-time All-Star who won the Norris Trophy in 1998 and he played in two Stanley Cup Finals, losing with the Kings in 1993 (he later replaced Wayne Gretzky as the team's captain) and winning the championship with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. Blake concluded his career, at age 40, with the San Jose Sharks this past season.
One of the best left tackles to play the game, Walter Jones announced his retirement in late April, ending a 13-year career that included nine Pro Bowl appearances and four All-Pro selections. The Seahawks said they would immediately retire his No. 71 jersey, making him only the third player to receive that honor. Former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has called Jones the best offensive player he ever coached, and Holmgren has coached Brett Favre, Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice.
A six-time Pro Bowl left tackle who suffered from a narrowing of the spine during his 10 NFL seasons, Chris Samuels announced his retirement on March 4. Drafted third in 2000 by the Redskins, he started all 141 games in which he played and helped running back Clinton Portis achieve four 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Samuels' upper body went limp when he banged heads with a defensive player Oct. 11 in a game against the Carolina Panthers. He said he's had similar sensations several times during his 10-year playing career, the result of the spinal condition called stenosis.
The winningest goalie to have never won the Stanley Cup, Curtis Joseph called it a career in January after 19 seasons with six teams (St. Louis, Edmonton, Detroit, Phoenix and Calgary and Toronto). His 454 victories trail only Martin Brodeur (592 as of March 4), Patrick Roy (551) and Ed Belfour (484).
A two-time Pro Bowl receiver, Muhsin Muhammad decided to hang up his cleats after 14 seasons when Carolina made no effort to re-sign him this offseason. A fan favorite affectionately known as "Moose" to the Panthers' faithful, Muhammad finished his career with 860 receptions, including 62 for touchdowns. Muhammad shined in two Super Bowl appearances -- one each with Carolina and Chicago -- catching seven balls for 175 yards and two touchdowns. His 85-yard touchdown catch from Jake Delhomme in Super Bowl XXXVIII stands as the longest offensive play in Super Bowl history.
The NFL's oldest player at 44, Feagles announced his retirement on April 30. Considered the most durable punter in NFL history, Feagles made his pro football debut in 1988 for the New England Patriots after going undrafted out of Miami. Over a 22-year career, he also played for the Eagles, Cardinals, Seahawks and Giants. The two-time Pro Bowl punter holds NFL records for most consecutive games played, most punts, most punts inside the 20-yard line, most punting yards and most games played. He won his only championship with the Giants, who defeated the previously undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Lorena Ochoa, 28, announced on April 20 that she was stepping away from competitive golf, ending her reign as the LPGA's top player and, arguably, the most dominant female athlete on the planet.
During his 14 seasons in the NHL, all of them with the Dallas Stars, Lehtinen was nominated for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the league's best defensive forward, six times and joined Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau and Pavel Datsyuk as the only three-time winners. (Lehtinen's career rating was plus-176). A fourth-round draft pick in 1992, he went on to score 243 goals and 514 points, and play a key role on the Stars' 1998-99 Stanley Cup championship team, assisting on Brett Hull's controversial winning goal. "He was as good a two-way player as you are ever going to find," former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock told The Dallas Morning News . "You could put him on any line the whole time I had him, and he automatically made that line better. That's a pretty strong statement about a player."
During his 18 years in the NHL, the defenseman contributed to Stanley Cup triumphs in Dallas (1999) and Tampa Bay (2004), earned a pair of All-Star Game berths (1998, '99) and helped Team Canada win the World Championship in 1994. The seventh overall pick in the 1990 NHL Draft, Sydor played 1,291 games for the Kings, Stars, Blue Jackets, Lightning, Penguins and Blues, scoring 507 points (98 goals, 409 assists) and racking up 755 penalty minutes. He recently accepted a job as an assistant coach with Houston Aeros of the AHL.
Joe Bugel, the man who established the Hogs, the overpowering offensive line that helped the Washington Redskins win three Super Bowls in the 1980s and early 1990s, finally called it quits in mid-January. He leaves as one of the greatest offensive line coaches in the NFL and also compiled a 24-56 record as a head coach with Arizona (1990-93) and Oakland (1997) during his 32 NFL seasons.
Probably best known for his 11th-inning, Game 7 homer against the Boston Red Sox that carried the New York Yankees into the 2003 World Series, Aaron Boone finished his 12-year career with a .263 batting average, 126 homers and 555 RBI. The one-time All-Star is believed to be the first player to return to the majors after open-heart surgery.
Capping his Olympic career with two medals in Vancouver, Chad Hedrick joined Eric Heiden as the only American men to bring home five medals in long-track events. "This is my fifth medal, all at different distances, a major accomplishment for me," said the retiring Hedrick. "It's definitely been a great ride."
A 12-year veteran defensive end who helped the Arizona Cardinals reach the Super Bowl in 2009, Bertrand leaves the game with 65 sacks and 232 combined tackles.
Credited with getting Kentucky's football program back on the road toward respectablility, Rich Brooks made it known that he was flirting with retirement after the team's devastating 21-13 loss to Clemson in the Music City Bowl. A former head coach of the St. Louis Rams (13-19 career record), his Kentucky team upset eventual national champion LSU in 2007.
The winningest coach in NCAA history, Don Meyer of Northern State in South Dakota announced his retirement in late February. He broke Bob Knight's record of 902 wins in January 2009, and leaves with a career record of 923-324. The NCAA considers Meyer the winningest men's college basketball coach, even though his career was split between the NAIA and NCAA. The NCAA's statistics department counts all of a coach's victories at four-year U.S. colleges if there's a minimum of 10 years at NCAA schools.
Legendary UCLA coach Andy Banachowski is leaving the sport as the winningest women's volleyball coach in Division I history. With a career spanning the entire life of the UCLA volleyball program, save two seasons, Banachowski walks away with 1,106 wins and six national championships. Send comments to email@example.com