A four-time manager of the year, La Russa retired on top after leading the Cardinals to the 2011 World Series title. He won with Oakland in 1989, and St. Louis in 2006 and this year, joining Sparky Anderson as the only manager to win a World Series title with clubs in both the American and National Leagues.
2 of 33Icon Sports Media
Six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz informed the Saints on Oct. 21 that the 14-year veteran would step away from the game, according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein. Kreutz, 34, "has to feel really good about the passion he has got for the game," Bartelstein said. After 13 seasons with the Chicago Bears, Kruez signed a one-year, $2 million contract with New Orleans but only started three games.
3 of 33Darren Carroll/SI; Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Modano retired after 21 seasons in the NHL. He has 561 goals and 1,374 points, leading U.S.-born players in the league, over 20 seasons with the Dallas-Minnesota franchise and one season with his hometown Detroit Red Wings. The North Stars selected the native of Livonia, Mich., No. 1 overall in 1988. Following the franchise's move to Dallas, he helped the Stars hoist the Stanley Cup in 1999.
4 of 33John W. McDonough (2), Michael O'Neill/SI
The first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, the oft-injured Yao Ming is calling it a career. At 7-foot-6, Ming was selected to eight All-Star games and was All-NBA five times while starring in Houston. His career derailed due to an injury in his left foot and ankle. He missed the 2009-10 season recovering from surgery to repair a broken bone in the foot and played just five games in 2010-11 after suffering a stress fracture in his ankle. He has career averages of 19.0 points per game, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
5 of 33Damian Strohmeyer, Bob Rosato/SI
One of the most prolific wide receivers to play the game, Randy Moss decided shortly after the NFL lockout ended to call it a career. The sure-fire Hall of Fame wideout amassed 153 touchdown, with 14,858 yards on 954 receptions while playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans.
6 of 33David E. Klutho/SI
Chris Osgood, 38, announced his retirement on July 19, deciding not to return after a 2010-11 season that was ended in January by sports hernia surgery. Though he was rarely, if ever, considered an elite goalie, Osgood crafted an impressive resume during his 17 seasons in the NHL. Drafted by Detroit in the third round (54th overall) in 1991, he went on to rank 10th all-time with 401 career victories, including 317 for Detroit, which left him behind only Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk (352) on the Red Wings' wins list. Osgood appeared in 744 games with a 2.49 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and 50 shutouts. Though plagued by a propensity to allow soft goals, he saved his best play for the postseason where he won the Stanley Cup twice as Detroit's starter (1998, 2008) and once as its backup (1997). Overall, he had a 74-49 record, 2.09 GAA, .916 save pct. and 15 shutouts (4th all time) in 129 playoff games. He also played for the Islanders and Blues during a distinguished career that will garner Hall of Fame consideration. Osgood will remain with Detroit to help scout and develop goaltenders.
7 of 33Bruce L. Schwartzman, Manny Millan, John W. McDonough, Michael O'Neill/SI
The Big Aristotle always did things his own way, so it shouldn't be surprising that he announced his retirement via Twitter and not through a press release or news conference. The always "quotatious" center won four NBA titles during his 19-year career. He teamed with Kobe Bryant to take three straight championships in Los Angeles, and then added another title with the Dwyane Wade and the Heat. O'Neal battled injuries throughout his career, especially in the past few years, but when healthy and in his prime, he dominated games. His 28,596 points are the fifth-most in league history.
8 of 33John Biever(2), Bob Rosato/SI
By the end of the 2010 season, one in which injuries ended his consecutive starts streak, Brett Favre and his impending retirement (this time for good) had become a non-story. He was the first player to win three consecutive MVP awards, and led Green Bay to two Super Bowls, including a win in XXXI in 1997. At the end of his career, he played one season for the New York Jets and two for the Minnesota Vikings, highlighted by an NFC Championship appearance in 2009.
9 of 33Chuck Solomon, Clay Patrick McBride/SI; Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire, Brain Blanco/Reuters
In perhaps the final instance of Manny being Manny, the Rays' designated hitter unexpectedly announced his retirement from baseball after being informed of an issue related to the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. According to a statement released by Major League Baseball, Ramirez chose to retire rather than complete the process. Ramirez served a 50-game suspension in 2009 after failing a drug test. He finishes with a career .312 batting average and 555 home runs.
10 of 33David Bergman, Peter Read Miller/SI; Steve Jones/AP
A former linebacker for the Steelers, Patriots and Chiefs, Mike Vrabel announced his retirement from the NFL in mid-July. Vrabel was a premier pass-rusher throughout his career, racking up 484 tackles and 57 sacks -- and three Super Bowl rings -- in his 14-year tenure. His departure doesn't mean he's leaving football altogether, though. Vrabel will return to Ohio State, his alma mater, as the Buckeyes' new linebackers coach.
11 of 33V.J. Lovero, David E. Klutho/SI; AP
Kariya announced the end of his stellar, 15-season NHL career on June 29 after being unable to return from post-concussion symptoms that forced him to miss all of last season. The 36-year-old Kariya scored 402 goals and helped set up 587 others with Anaheim, Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis. He was also a two-time Lady Byng Trophy winner and won a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
12 of 33Mike Powell/Getty Images; Bruno Fablet/Reuters; Jonas Karlsson, Simon Bruty/SI
A survivor in every sense of the word, Lance Armstrong announced on Feb. 16, 2011, that he would retire from professional cycling. This was Armstrong's second retirement, the first coming in 2005. Armstrong is considered one of the greatest cyclist of all time, winning the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times. Off the bike, Armstrong has campaigned feverishly to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. To date, Armstrong, who overcame a bout of testicular cancer in 1996, has raised nearly $400 million for the cause. In a sport saturated with doping, Armstrong, the self-proclaimed most-tested athlete on the planet, has never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.
13 of 33Jean Moss/SI; Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Arguably the greatest coach in NBA history called it quits -- at least temporarily -- after the Lakers' season ended with a sweep by the Mavericks. During his career, Phil Jackson led the Bulls and Lakers to a combined 11 championships, more than any other coach in league history. The Zen Master didn't have a very serene finish --a 122-86 loss in which Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were ejected for cheap shots -- but he'll be remembered for helping Michael Jordan break through for his first title, uniting Shaq and Kobe and devising unusual ways to reach his players. He left a slight opening to come back in a year or two. But for now, Jackson, 65, says, "I have no plans to return."
14 of 33Lou Capozzola/SI; Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images; Scott Bales/Icon SMI
After winning a third Stanley Cup with a third different team, Mark Recchi hung up his skates at age 43 -- 22 years after entering the NHL with the Penguins. Drafted in the fourth round (67th overall) in 1988, he went on to play 1,652 regular season games for seven teams, scoring 577 goals (12th all time) and 1,533 points. He tacked on another 147 points in 15 postseasons and won the Cup with Pittsburgh in 1991 and Carolina in 2006, keeping his promise to retire should the Bruins win it in 2011, which they did in seven games over the Vancouver Canucks. In the process, Recchi became the oldest man to score a goal in a Stanley Cup Final.
15 of 33Guillermo Lagaria/Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images
The Brazilian soccer legend's club career petered out in his home country with Sao Paulo's Corinthians. "I've been crying like a baby for the last few days. ... My head wants to continue, but my body can't take it anymore," Ronaldo, 34, told Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo . A three-time FIFA Player of the Year, Ronaldo scored more than 200 goals during an 18-year senior club career. He began with Brazil's Cruzeiro at age 16 and starred in Europe for PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and AC Milan before coming back to Brazil. Ronaldo retired from international play in 2006 as the World Cup's alltime leading scorer with 15 goals.
16 of 33Robert Beck/SI
Time will tell whether such a consistent starter and stellar postseason pitcher will make the Baseball Hall of Fame. Pettitte's 229 wins from 1995 to 2009 are the most of any pitcher during that period. Morever, he finished top 5 in the Cy Young voting four times, and in 16 seasons never had a losing season. He was good for more than 30 starts in 12 of those years. The longtime Yankee holds the record for postseason wins with a 19-10 mark in 42 appearances.
17 of 33Brian Bahr, Steve Babineau/NHLI/Getty Images; AP(2)
One of hockey's great all-around centers, Peter Forsberg, 37, announced his retirement on Feb. 14, 2011 after a chronic problem with his right foot ended his attempt at a comeback with the Colorado Avalanche. Forsberg, who played all or parts of 13 seasons in the NHL, had spent the previous two years in Sweden, playing sporadically for Modo of the Elite League. Forsberg scored a career-high 116 points in his first full season (1995-96) and became a cornerstone, along with Joe Sakic and goaltender Patrick Roy, of an Avalanche team that won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001. After missing the entire 2001-02 regular season, Forsberg returned in time for the playoffs and led the NHL in postseason scoring (27 points in 20 games). In 2002-03, a healthy Forsberg came back to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer (106 points), and the Hart Trophy as MVP.
18 of 33John W. McDonough/SI
For a converted shortstop, Trevor Hoffman made quite a splash as a reliever during his 18-year career, finishing with 601 career saves. Hoffman had 12 seasons with 37 or more saves. He amassed 53 in 1998 and 43 in 2006, two seasons in which he finished second in the Cy Young voting.
19 of 33Al Tielemans, David Bergman/SI
Stover, 43, ranks fourth in NFL history with 2,004 points. He made 471 field goals, connecting on 83.7 percent of his attempts -- the seventh-best success rate in league history. Drafted by the New York Giants in the 12th round of the 1990 draft, Stover played from 1991 through '95 with the Cleveland Browns. He made the move with the Browns when the team moved to Baltimore in 1996 and kicked for the Ravens for the next 13 seasons. Stover was signed by the Indianapolis Colts in 2009 and became the oldest player (42) to play in the Super Bowl. That proved to be the final season of his 20-year career.
20 of 33David E. Klutho/SI
Undrafted, the undersized defenseman out of the University of Wisconsin played in Sweden and Finland for four seasons before being signed by New Jersey in 1999. He went on to play in five Stanley Cup Finals, winning three -- with the Devils (2) and Detroit Red Wings -- during his 11 seasons in the NHL. Rafalski finished his career with 515 points and a plus-178 rating in 833 games. He also played for Team USA at three Olympics, winning the silver medal in 2002 and the tournament's best defenseman honors in 2010 even though Canada won the gold beating the U.S. in the final.
21 of 33Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Tennis fans said goodbye again on Jan. 26, 2011, to former World No. 1 tennis player Justine Henin. She started her 2008 campaign at No. 1, a distinction she had for over 12 months, but shocked the tennis world by retiring in May, still ranked as the top player. She returned in 2010 to win two titles and add to her impressive 43 career wins. Despite never winning at Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam title Henin did not conquer, notable players from Billie Jean King to Andre Agassi consider Henin one of the best women's tennis players of her generation.
22 of 33John Iacono, V.J. Lovero, Brad Mangin, Chuck Solomon/SI
Whether he'll be remembered for his 509 career home runs and 2,689 hits or his sporadic signature batting stance, Gary Sheffield ended his 22-year career on Feb. 17, 2011. Sheffield played for eight teams, won the 1992 NL Comeback Player of the Year award, was a five-time Silver Slugger winner, a nine-time All-Star and a World Series champion with the Florida Marlins in 1997. An in-game collision in 2006 caused injury problems for the remainder of his career, but after announcing his retirement, Sheffield argued he should still be considered a Hall of Famer: "If someone wants to debate me, check the stats."
23 of 33David E. Klutho, Bill Wippert, Lou Capozzola/SI
Drury retired from the NHL on Aug. 19 after 12 seasons. The 34-year-old center struggled through a final injury-plagued season with New York that limited him to 24 games. Drury won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's top player as a senior at Boston University in 1998, then the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie a year later. In 892 career NHL games with Colorado, Calgary, Buffalo and the Rangers, Drury had 255 goals and 615 points. Even more impressive was his knack to make the big play at the key time. Drury scored 47 game-winning goals in the regular season, but he really made his mark in the postseason, where 17 of his 47 goals in 135 playoff games were winners. A three-time Olympian, Drury was a Stanley Cup champion in 2001 with the Avalanche, but his winning ways go much further back. While playing for Trumbull, Conn., Drury pitched a complete-game five-hitter and drove in two runs to lead his hometown team to the 1989 Little League World Series title.
24 of 33John W. McDonough/SI
In a shocking midseason development, Jerry Sloan, the longest tenured coach of any of the four major sports retired on Feb. 10, 2011. He departed with the third most wins as a head coach in the NBA with a 1,221-803 record. After three seasons as the Chicago Bulls head coach, Sloan spent 24 seasons (1988 to 2011) with the Utah Jazz, and is the only NBA coach to win 1,000 games with one franchise.
25 of 33David E. Klutho/SI
By downing some of the most storied programs in NCAA basketball history -- including Kentucky, Kansas and Indiana -- Gary Williams guided his alma mater into the NCAA's elite with a run to the 2002 national championship. The longtime Terrapins coach retired Thursday, May 5, after 33 years as a college coach. Maryland took a step back in recent years, failing to make the NCAA tournament in four of the past seven seasons. But Williams, 66, leaves with a career record of 668-380.
26 of 33Steven M. Falk/Reuters; Darren Carroll, David E. Klutho, Lou Capozzola/SI; AP
In 1,238 NHL games with six NHL teams, Weight scored 278 goals and 1,033 points (sixth all-time among American-born players) as one of the league's best playmakers. Drafted in the second round (34th overall) by the New York Rangers in 1991, he became a four-time All-Star who scored a career-high 104 points for the Edmonton Oilers in 1995-96. He also won a World Cup title with Team USA, and played in three Olympics, winning the silver medal in 2002. Signed by the New York Islanders in 2008, Weight served as captain of the young, rebuilding team and spent time assisting coach Jack Capuano after a back injury ended his season in Nov. 2010.
27 of 33Al Tielemans(2), David E. Klutho, Ronald C. Modra/SI
Aside from the famed Ken Griffey Jr., perhaps no other center fielder made more acrobatic catches from 1993 to 2010 than Jim Edmonds. The eight-time gold glove winner announced his retirement on Feb. 18, after spending 17 years in the majors with six teams. He spent the majority of his career with the California/Anaheim Angels and the St. Louis Cardinals. After a productive seven seasons with the Angels, Edmonds hit more than 28 home runs in his first six seasons with the Cardinals. Regarded as a reliable hitter with a knack for the spectacular catch, he also helped carry St. Louis to a World Series title in 2006.
28 of 33Robert Beck/SI; John Cordes/Icon SMI
Anderson was one of the most consistent outfielders of his time and a mainstay in the Angels' lineup for 15 seasons before he retired on March 1. In each season between 1998 and 2008, Anderson quietly hit more than 14 home runs and had 75 runs batted in. He was a three-time All-Star, two-time AL Silver Slugger and played a pivotal role in the middle of the lineup on the Angels championship team in 2002. On Aug. 21, 2007, Anderson had arguably his best career game when he became only the 13th player in major league history to knock in 10 runs in a game. Anderson retired with 2,529 hits and had a .293 career batting average.
29 of 33AP; Lou Capozzola/sI
The veteran stay-at-home defenseman hung up his skates after an injury-plagued 19th season in the NHL. Drafted 22nd overall in 1989 by the Quebec Nordiques, Foote was on the team when it moved to Colorado in 1995 and he went on to win two Stanley Cups with the Avalanche while becoming the franchise's all-time leader in regular season (1,966) and postseason games played (170). From 2005-08, he skated for the Columbus Blue Jackets before returning to Colorado and becoming a mentor to the Avs' young players. In all, Foote scored 66 goals with 308 points and 1,534 penalty minutes in 1,153 career games.
30 of 33Aaron Josefczyk/Icon SMI
One of the best offensive linemen of his generation, the nine-time Pro Bowler called it a career after 13 seasons. During his 10 years with the Steelers, Faneca helped the franchise to the Super Bowl XL victory. He spent two seasons with the Jets and one with the Cardinals to finish his career and, despite diminishing skills, was still a solid contributor on the line. The next question for the guard: Does he get a call to the Hall of Fame? Guards have a spotty history, but with Randall McDaniel's enshrinement in 2009, Faneca -- who has a similar track record -- should like his chances.
31 of 33Jeff Moffett/Icon SMI
Not many people can say they turned down $12 million to play baseball, but Gil Meche knew, regardless of the money on the table, that it was time to retire. He leaves with a career 84-83 record and 4.49 ERA in 10 seasons. Meche split his time between the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals. After missing the entire '01 and '02 seasons, he returned to win the AL Comeback Player of the Year award with a 15-13 season. Who would you add to the list? Sent comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
32 of 33Simon Bruty/SI
Kristine Lilly, the most capped men's or women's soccer player ever, retired after 352 appearances for the U.S. National team on Jan. 6, 2011. Lilly got her big break to play for the U.S. while enrolled in high school back in 1987. Now 39, she has played in a staggering five World Cups.
33 of 33Gene J. Puskar/AP
Four-time Stanley Cup-winner Kris Draper hung up his skates on July 26 after 20 seasons in the NHL. Draper started his career with the Winnipeg Jets, but his national profile skyrocketed after the Detroit Red Wings acquired him on waivers for one dollar in 1993. He never put up huge stats, but the speedy, hard-working center was one of the most consistent and durable players in Wings history. Along with Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty, Draper was a member of the "Grind Line," a unit beloved in Detroit for its blue collar ethic. When Colorado's Claude Lemieux injured Draper with an infamous cheapshot during the 1996 Western Conference Finals, it sparked the NHL's most ferocious rivalry of the late 1990s and catalyzed the Red Wings into the league's most successful team of the ensuing 13 seasons. A face-off specialist and tenacious checker, Draper won the 2004 Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. In 2009, he became the fifth player to play 1,000 games with the Red Wings.
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