1 of 13John W. McDonough and Mark Tucker for Sports Illustrated
It took several attempts at retirement before the NFL's ultimate iron man wrapped his mind around life without football—and let's just say he's taken to it quite well. "I could make all the throws I made before," Favre says now, weighing his game. "We're not trying to start some he's-coming-out-of-retirement deal. But I could play."
2 of 13Walter Iooss Jr. and Craig Ambrosio/WWE for Sports Illustrated
One thing is clear when old lords of the ring gather for a Hall of Fame induction: Like spandex, the memories—and the appeal—of pro wrestling's graying star forever hold their shape. A Hall inductee in 2005 (20 years after his SI cover), Hogan was on hand in San Jose this year to enshrine his late friend Randy Savage.
3 of 13WWE; Fred R. Conrad for Sports Illustrated
A quick study in the ring, the former wrestling star now focuses on teaching at-risk kids the value of an education. A fiery and entertaining performer, Santana dominated opponents for almost two decades before finding his second calling as a teacher.
4 of 13WWE; Coty Tarr for Sports Illustrated
She was a menace on the mat, using her physical style to win three titles. Madusa's been no less successful on the Monster Jame circuit. Though she's now blazing trails on dirt tracks rather than on wrestling mats, Madusa's as dominant as ever.
5 of 13Ronald C. Modra and Matthew Putney for Sports Illustrated
He's been a feared slugger, a disgraced whistle-blower and a Twitter oddity. Now the six-time All-Star travels to minor league towns and indy ball fields, putting on a show—and it's the closest he'll ever again get to the major league game he changed forever. At 51 years old, and three decades after his major league debut, Canseco is a long way from the bright lights of the big leagues. But after everything, he can still put a charge on the ball. Canseco can't bend the surgically reattached finger, so he now swings with a middle finger extended from the bat, involuntarily flipping the bird to anyone who might care to watch him hit.
6 of 13Carl Iwasaki and Robert Beck for Sports Illustrated
From the bottom of the depth chart he battled to get on the field, finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting—then lost his job. The first black QB to start in the modern era had a bittersweet career, but that was only the beginning of his hardships. Briscoe's boldest trick: trying to persuade the Broncos that the world was ready for a black QB. In the end, Denver didn't believe. There is no straight line from the discrimination Briscoe faced to his incarceration, from his addiction to his redemption—but those things can't be completely unrelated, can they?
7 of 13V.J. Lovero and Chip Litherland for Sports Illustrated; Karl Wright/Icon SMI
He was a two-sport phenom who never made his mark in either one as a pro (though he did make millions). Now he's back in the game, bird-dogging for his old baseball team, trying to find future studs and sweating the details. He's never know the answer to the million-dollar question: What if he'd dedicated the raw talent in his 6' 5", 220-pound body to just one game? The son of a football coach and a gym teacher, Henson follows about 15 teams for the Yankees from his base in Tampa.
8 of 13John Iacono and Greg Nelson for Sports Illustrated
The greatest women's basketball player left her TV gig to get back into coaching, even after twice burning out on the bench. She took her best offer, at an NAIA school, where she has turned around the program—and rediscovered herself. Miller took a touch-love approach to team building when she arrived in Langston, and her players—eventually—embraced her methods.
9 of 13Neil Leifer and Kevin Liles for Sports Illustrated
The octogenarian who promoted and personified a glorious era in boxing—the heyday of the heavyweights—is as recognizable and bombastic as ever. It's just that fewer people are looking or listening, and that's not necessarily a good thing. King used two fistfuls of flags to try to rev up enthusiasm for a recent fight involving one of the few fighters he still manages (not the headliner).
10 of 13Jeffery A. Salter for Sports Illustrated; SGranitz/WireImage
Fifteen years later, their Grammy-winning hit remains a total dog (to say nothing of the band's biggest fan, some baseball player named A-Rod). But this much is undeniable: "Who Let the Dogs Out" revolutionized music's place in sports. Success and all, there are new Men in Baha since you last heard them.
11 of 13United Artists/Getty Images; Brian Lowe for Sports Illustrated
He was the embodiment of cold war villainy as the stone-faced killing machine Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. What few knew back then: The unknown actor from Sweden had a bio that would make his one of the most astonishing WIKI entries in movie history. Lundgren's career was hardly a wrap after his boxing breakout: He's since portrayed He-Man, and a cyborg, and in 2015 he's play a sub commander alongside George Clooney.
12 of 13Robert Beck and Jonathan Ferrey for Sports Illustrated
Elbow reconstruction operations are so common among major leaguers, and so often deemed successful, that pitchers who undergo the procedure (aka Tommy John surgery) don't often fear for their careers. But what about players whose arms are never the same? Despite UCL surgery, Bernero's arm is no longer good for pitching, but it works fine for one of his favorite pastimes, fly-fishing in the Pacific Northwest.
13 of 13John G. Zimmerman for Sports Illustrated; David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
Abdul-Jabbar won six rings and retired in 1989 as the NBA's all-time leading scorer. The Hall of Fame center who played with his back to the world was immersing himself in Malcolm X and Sherlock Holmes stories before tip-offs. Now he has grown comfortable sharing his insights on race, religion, sports and history as a public intellectual. Literature, say Abdul-Jabbar, "illuminates the dark cave of life we stumble through. We can see better where we're going, what sudden drop to avoid, where the cool water is running."
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