20 Legendary Athletes Who Finished Up With Another Team

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On Wednesday, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts officially parted ways after 14 seasons. We’ll soon find out where the four-time MVP, who choked up at his goodbye press conference, will resume his NFL career. When it comes to Hall of Famers who spent the majority of their careers with one franchise before retiring with another, the team that signs Manning hopes he’s more Joe Montana than Joe Namath. Here are several other greats who were once in Manning’s shoes.

1. Johnny Unitas – San Diego Chargers

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The Baltimore Colts began a youth movement in 1972 by benching Unitas, their quarterback of 17 years, early in the season. In 1973, Baltimore traded the 39-year-old to the San Diego Chargers. The split wasn’t amicable.

“You can fry an egg too long,” Colts general manager Joe Thomas said. “The deal is done, and that’s it. He’s their property, period. From here on in, I will have nothing to say about Johnny Unitas.” Unitas, who sued the Colts for $725,000 on charges of a malicious breach of contract, was benched at halftime in his fourth game with the Chargers in favor of rookie Dan Fouts. He retired during training camp the following year.

2. Joe Namath – Los Angeles Rams

The New York Jets elected not to renew Broadway Joe’s $450,000 contract after the 1976 season, and who could blame them? The gimpy-kneed Namath, who earned legend status in New York after guaranteeing victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III and backing it up, was 4-17 as the Jets’ starter over the previous two seasons.

“It’s a strange feeling; it hasn’t really hit home yet,” Al Ward, the Jets’ general manager said after releasing Namath. “I don’t think it’ll really sink in until I see him in a different uniform for the first time.” Namath signed with the Rams for an estimated $150,000 and started four games in his only season in Los Angeles before retiring.

3. Hakeem Olajuwon – Toronto Raptors

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“I feel like a rookie again,” Hakeem Olajuwon said after a sign-and-trade agreement sent the 12-time NBA All-Star from the Houston Rockets to the Toronto Raptors in 2001. “I’m excited. It’s a new opportunity to establish myself.” The Dream’s one year in Toronto wasn’t a total nightmare, as the Raptors finished 42-40 and made the playoffs, but Olajuwon averaged only 7.1 points and 6 rebounds per game. A serious back injury led Olajuwon to retire after the season. He's pictured here with Patrick Ewing, who played for the Seattle Supersonics and Orlando Magic after his storied career with the New York Knicks.

4. Yogi Berra – New York Mets

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After 17 seasons as a catcher with the New York Yankees, Yogi Berra (pictured with Roger Maris) took over as manager in 1964. He was fired after one season and joined the New York Mets in 1965 as a player and assistant to manager Casey Stengel, who managed Berra for 11 of his 17 seasons with the Yankees. Berra went 2-for-9 in four games with the Mets before retiring as an active player one day before his 40th birthday. “This is it,” Berra told reporters on May 11. “I’m through as a player forever. I can’t do it no more. It’s tough to play even once a week. That year’s layoff did it.” Berra served as a coach for the Mets for the next 8 years before becoming manager in 1972.

5. Gordie Howe – Hartford Whalers

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Gordie Howe won four Stanley Cups and was named the NHL’s most valuable player six times in his 25 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. Howe retired in 1971 but returned to the ice with the WHA’s Houston Aeros in 1973. In addition to a fat contract, the Aeros offered Howe a chance to play on the same line as his sons, Marty and Mark. Howe returned to the NHL for the 1979-80 season, scoring 15 goals for the Hartford Whalers. Not bad for a 51-year-old grandfather. Howe retired after the season.

6. Harmon Killebrew – Kansas City Royals

Harmon Killebrew, who lost his fight against esophageal cancer last year, spent the first 21 seasons of his career with the same franchise. Killer hit 559 home runs with the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins (the franchise relocated following the 1960 season) and signed with the Kansas City Royals in 1975. Killebrew hit 14 home runs in his only season with the Royals, including one against the Twins in his final trip to Minnesota. Kansas City announced that it would release him in September and Killebrew, who ranked fifth on the career home run list, retired after the season.

7. Joe Montana – Kansas City Chiefs

With Montana recovering from an elbow injury, Steve Young took the reins of the San Francisco 49ers’ offense in 1991 and 1992. He never let go. In 1993, San Francisco traded Montana, safety David Whitmore, and a third-round pick to Kansas City for the Chiefs’ first-round pick. The move worked out well for both teams. Young continued to thrive in San Francisco, while Montana, who won four Super Bowls in 13 seasons with the 49ers, guided the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game. He missed most of the second half of Kansas City’s loss to the Bills with a mild concussion and retired after the Chiefs lost in the first round of the playoffs the following year.

8. Franco Harris – Seattle Seahawks

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Franco Harris won four Super Bowls during his 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who drafted the running back out of Penn State in 1972. Coming off a 1,000-yard rushing season and only 363 yards shy of passing Jim Brown as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, the 34-year-old Harris held out for more money during training camp in 1984. The Steelers responded by releasing him, but Harris wasn’t out of the league for long.

The Seattle Seahawks signed him for an estimated $500,000 after losing leading rusher Curt Warner to an injury in the season-opener. Harris quickly took a liking to the Emerald City. “Everything here has been totally impressive,” he said. “The people, the scenery – I guess the only thing is, I’m not a big salmon eater. Everywhere we go, people want to feed me salmon.” Harris rushed for 170 yards in eight games with the Seahawks before being released.

9. Michael Jordan – Washington Wizards

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Three years after his second retirement from basketball, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan returned to the court in 2001 with the Washington Wizards. Jordan had served as part owner and the president of basketball operations for the beleaguered franchise since January 2000, and was responsible for drafting high school standout Kwame Brown with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. Jordan averaged more than 20 points per game in each of his two seasons with the Wizards, but Washington failed to make the playoffs both years. In November 2002, Jordan announced that he would retire at the end of the season.

10. Ray Bourque – Colorado Avalanche

At the 2000 NHL trade deadline, the Boston Bruins dealt their legendary 39-year-old defenseman Ray Bourque to the Colorado Avalanche. “We limited ourselves to teams where Raymond Bourque would have a chance to win the Stanley Cup,” Bruins general manager Harry Sinden said. The Avs lost in the Western Conference finals, but Bourque returned to Colorado for the 2000-01 season. He tallied 59 points during the regular season and 10 more in the playoffs, which culminated in him hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time. Bourque retired after the season.

11. Karl Malone – Los Angeles Lakers

After 18 seasons in Utah, Karl Malone took less money in 2003 to join what some pundits dubbed the Dream Team. Malone and fellow free agent Gary Payton signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, who, with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal leading the way, were one season removed from winning their third straight NBA title. At 40 years old, the Mailman was hungry for his first championship. He averaged 13.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and helped the Lakers advance to the NBA Finals, where they lost to Detroit in five games. Malone missed the final three games of that series and underwent knee surgery after the season. He didn’t play another game.

12. Tony Dorsett – Denver Broncos

Tony Dorsett spent the first 11 years of his career with the Dallas Cowboys. When the former Pitt star was relegated to a backup role behind Herschel Walker, Dorsett requested a trade. The Cowboys granted him his wish, dealing him to the Denver Broncos in 1988 for a conditional fifth-round draft pick. Dorsett started 13 games with the Broncos, rushing for 703 yards and five touchdowns. After announcing that the 1989 season would be his last, Dorsett suffered two ligament tears in training camp. He sat out the season and retired after the Broncos lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV. Dorsett came out of retirement 8 months later to work out at Cowboys training camp, but he failed to make the team.

13. Emmitt Smith – Arizona Cardinals

Emmitt Smith won three Super Bowls and set the NFL’s all-time rushing record in his 13 seasons with the Cowboys. Shortly after Dallas released the 33-year-old Smith in 2003, he inked a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals. “I’ve always been very confident in my abilities,” Smith said. “I think I’m a 1,300-yard back, and I will be out to prove that.” Smith fell short of that goal. A shoulder injury limited him to 90 carries over 10 games in his first season in the desert. Smith rebounded to rush for a respectable 937 yards and nine touchdowns in 2004 before retiring.

14. Raúl – Schalke

After 16 years with Real Madrid, where he helped win three Champions League titles and became the club’s all-time leading scorer, Raúl signed a two-year contract with Schalke of the Bundesliga in 2010. “I have come to Schalke because I really wanted to get experience of playing abroad,” he said. While he previously talked of retiring after the 2011 season, Raúl has reportedly been offered a contract extension.

15. Merlene Ottey – Slovenia

From 1980 to 2000, Merlene Ottey won nine Olympic medals in track and field while competing for her native Jamaica. In 1998, Ottey moved to Slovenia. According to the Los Angeles Times, she told the international track federation that she preferred the country’s calm lifestyle. In 2002, Ottey became a Slovenian citizen and started representing her new home country in international events. She reached the semifinals in the 100 meters at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

16. O.J. Simpson - San Francisco 49ers

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After his legendary career with the Buffalo Bills and years before his famous trial, O.J. Simpson quietly ended his football career on two terrible San Francisco 49ers teams in 1978-79. Here he is walking off the field after his last game.

17. Willie Mays – New York Mets

Willie Mays spent the first 21 seasons of his remarkable career with the New York and San Francisco Giants. With Mays batting only .184 in 19 games, the Giants traded him to the New York Mets for minor league pitcher Charlie Williams and cash in May 1972. Mays had been benched in San Francisco and Giants owner Horace Stoneham couldn’t afford to pay his former star after his playing days were over. “I’m not going to be something on display,” Mays said of the move. “I have to play ball. If used in the right way, I think I can do a good job for the Mets.” In his Mets debut, Mays hit a go-ahead home run in a 5-4 win over his former team. Mays finished with 8 home runs in 1972 and retired after hitting six more in 1973, bringing his career total to 660.

18. Bobby Orr – Chicago Blackhawks

Bobby Orr played the first 10 seasons of his NHL career with the Boston Bruins and the final two with the Chicago Blackhawks after leaving via free agency in 1976. Years later, Orr blamed his departure on his agent, Alan Eagleson. Orr said that Eagleson, who was later convicted of fraud and embezzlement, misrepresented the Bruins’ offer to him when his contract expired. Specifically, Eagleson failed to mention that the Bruins offered him 18.5 percent ownership in the team in addition to his salary.

19. Pele – New York Cosmos

Pelé played 17 seasons with Santos in his native Brazil and retired from the team in 1972 as its all-time leading scorer. Pelé signed a contract with the North American Soccer League’s New York Cosmos for a reported $4.5 million in 1975 and led the team to the NASL championship before retiring for good.

20. Hank Aaron – Milwaukee Brewers

Hammerin’ Hank started and ended his career in Milwaukee, but for different franchises. Aaron played 21 seasons for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, setting the all-time home run record, which has since been surpassed by Barry Bonds, in April 1974. The Braves traded Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers after the season. “I will do whatever I can to help the ball club,” the 41-year-old Aaron said. “I wouldn’t want to be purely a designated hitter.” Aaron appeared in 137 games for the Brewers in 1975 and hit 12 home runs in 465 at-bats. He retired after hitting 10 more homers in 1976.

“What about Jerry Rice?!”

We tried to limit this list to all-time greats who played the majority of their careers with one team and then played for only one other team before retiring. That’s why guys like Rice, Reggie White, Brett Favre, Babe Ruth, Dennis Rodman, Deion Sanders, Tom Seaver and the aforementioned Patrick Ewing – all of whom played for at least three teams – don’t appear. But that doesn't mean we didn't forget someone – or multiple people, like Mays, Aaron, Pele and Orr (we've since tacked them on). Share your own favorites in the comments.

5 Fast Facts About Muhammad Ali

Kent Gavin/Getty Images
Kent Gavin/Getty Images

Muhammad Ali is one of the most important athletes and cultural figures in American history. Though he passed away in 2016, the heavyweight boxing champ was larger than life in and outside of the ring. The man who coined the phrase "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” won 37 knockout victories. Here are five more fast facts about Muhammad Ali, a.k.a. The Greatest.

1. Cassius Clay was named for a white abolitionist.

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. and named after his father, who had in turn been named for a white abolitionist. The original Cassius Clay was a wealthy 19th-century planter and politician who not only published an anti-slavery newspaper, but also emancipated every slave he inherited from his father. Cassius Clay also served as a minister to Russia under President Abraham Lincoln.

2. Muhammad Ali's draft evasion case went to the Supreme Court.

In the early 1960s, Clay converted to Islam, joined the Nation of Islam, and took the name Muhammad Ali. According to his religious beliefs, Ali refused to serve in the Vietnam War when he was drafted in April 1967. He was arrested and stripped of his boxing license and heavyweight title. On June 20, 1967, he was convicted of draft evasion and banned from fighting while he remained free on appeal. His case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously overturned his conviction in 1971.

3. He received a replacement gold medal.

At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Ali won the gold medal for boxing in the light heavyweight division. But, as he wrote in his 1975 autobiography, The Greatest: My Own Story (edited by Toni Morrison!), he supposedly threw his medal into the Ohio River in frustration over the racism he still experienced in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Some historians dispute this story and suggest that Ali just lost the medal. Either way, he was given a replacement when he lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

4. Muhammad Ali was an actual superhero.

In 1978, DC Comics published Superman vs. Muhammad Ali—an oversize comic in which Muhammad Ali defeats Superman and saves the world. In real life, Ali did save a man from suicide. In 1981, a man threatened to jump from the ninth story of a building in L.A.’s Miracle Mile neighborhood. Ali’s friend Howard Bingham witnessed the unfolding drama and called the boxer, who lived nearby. Ali rushed into the building and successfully talked the man down from the ledge.

5. Muhammad Ali starred in a Broadway show.

In Oscar Brown, Jr.'s 1969 musical adaptation of Joseph Dolan Tuotti's play Big Time Buck White, Ali played a militant black intellectual who speaks at a political meeting. The play ran for only five nights at the George Abbot Theatre in New York. His Playbill bio reported that Ali "is now appealing his five-year prison conviction and $10,000 fine for refusing to enter the armed services on religious grounds. The Big Time Buck White role that he has accepted is much like the life he lives off stage in reality.”

Can Watching the Super Bowl Give You a Heart Attack?

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iStock.com/skynesher

With the clock nearing zero, the 2006 divisional round playoff between the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers looked to be over: It was the fourth quarter, with one minute and 20 seconds left, and the score was 21-18. Pittsburgh held the lead and, by all appearances, was about to score again.

Pittsburgh's offense lined up on the Indianapolis 2-yard line and handed the ball to future Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis, a cannonball of a man who famously went by the nickname "The Bus." Nearly everybody assumed Bettis would pound the ball through the goal line. Instead, Colts linebacker Gary Brackett forced a fumble. The Colts picked up the ball and nearly ran it back for a touchdown. For Steelers fans, it was a sudden and heartbreaking turn of events. Literally.

Watching from a bar, a diehard Steelers fan named Terry O'Neill watched the ball tumble to the ground and suddenly felt a pain in his chest. Luckily, two firefighters in the crowd helped resuscitate him.

"My heart just quit beating completely," O'Neill later told the South Pittsburgh Reporter. "For all intents and purposes, I died."

Research indicates he wasn't the first. Watching a high-stakes game could actually kill you.

A 2002 study in The BMJ, which focused on the health of English soccer fans, found that a "myocardial infarction can be triggered by emotional upset, such as watching your football team lose an important match." A 2008 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine followed the World Cup-watching habits of German soccer fans and found that watching a stressful game more than doubled viewers' chances of experiencing a cardiovascular event. A similar result was found when other researchers looked at cardiovascular deaths in the Netherlands after the country's soccer team lost the European soccer championships on a penalty shootout in 1996.

In 2011, a study published in Clinical Cardiology looked at the Super Bowl specifically and found that deaths increased after the big game in the losing city, finding an "absolute increase in all cause mortality" in people over the age of 65. The researchers argued:

"Acute risk factors usually involve some form of stress—physical, emotional, or both—that increase the sympathetic nervous system and releases catecholamines. The subsequent increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and ventricular contractility increase oxygen demand and may change the shear stress of blood against an atherosclerotic plaque, contributing to plaque fracture."

This particular study, however, has received some criticism. It only looked at mortality statistics for the 1980 and the 1984 Super Bowls, a relatively small sample. Some researchers said the study went too far in implying that the Super Bowl caused death, considering that the viewer's behavior and health history (and not the events of the game itself) could have been responsible. Super Bowl Sunday, after all, is a day filled with fatty fried foods and copious amounts of alcohol—all possible risk factors for a cardiovascular event.

As Gregg Fonarow, director of the Cardiomyopathy Center at UCLA, tells LiveScience, "It may be other behaviors associated with important sporting events rather than the stress of watching the home team lose that may explain these associations." Additionally, pre-existing conditions could be a huge contributing factor. (This was the case for our fateful Steelers fan.)

Study limitations aside, becoming invested in the outcome of a sporting match is undeniably stressful on the heart. A recent (though small) study out of Canada surveyed the heart rates of hockey fans during games, revealing "a mean increase of 92 per cent among the 20 test subjects, rising from an average rate of 60 to 114 beats per minute," according to the Montreal Gazette. In other words, people sitting and watching TV had heart rates equivalent to people undergoing mild exercise. Their heart rates only got higher when they watched games in person.

Of course, you don't have to do a study to learn that close games can cause a diehard fan's heart to pound—just go and ask one. And if they mutter, "This team is going to kill me!," kindly suggest that they step away from the TV before it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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