Strange Post-Career Athlete Decisions

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2014

Strange Post-Career Athlete Decisions

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    After retirement, these athletes made some pretty weird decisions.

    Many athletes take a new career path post-retirement—after all, most professional athletes only play a few years in their respective sport. You see a lot of TV analysts, businessmen, spokespeople and philanthropists.

    What you don’t see a lot of is what’s on this list—Randy Johnson in a Japanese game show or Dennis Rodman in a bromance with a North Korean dictator.

    I’m going to leave out the, “Wow, it was strange for that athlete to shoot himself and get arrested,” examples. That’s its own slideshow—as is athletes who became actors. That has become so common, it ceases to qualify as strange.

    Additionally excluded are moves made during athletic careers—which unfortunately leaves out Deion Sanders, Oscar De La Hoya and all the other talented athletes who made ridiculous music videos during their careers.

Honorable Mention: George Foreman, Grillmaster

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    Kin Cheung/Associated Press

    I would venture to say there are people in this world that don’t even know George Foreman was once a boxer. Don’t believe me? Google “George Foreman” and see what happens.

    Now, I initially thought this was a strange post-retirement decision, but as it turns out, this was just a mid-career endorsement deal that went VERY right for the former heavyweight champ.

    After his second retirement, however, Foreman got much more involved with the product. In 1999, Salton, Inc. paid Foreman a whopping $137.5 million for the rights to his likeness.

    Of his decision to permanently retire from boxing and focus on business ventures, Foreman told CNBC, “[Boxing] was sort of getting in the way of my business life then.”

Michael Jordan Plays Baseball

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Two-sport athletes aren’t unheard of—Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders—that’s not the strange part.

    The strange part was Michael Jordan playing an entire Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Bulls of the NBA, only to retire and start from scratch playing baseball.

    It’s not completely out there, since Jordan did play baseball as a kid. After his father died in 1993, MJ told Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, “I want to play baseball. It's my father's dream that I become a baseball player.” 

    And so he did. Jordan spent a year in the Chicago White Sox minor league system, batting .202 on the season, before hanging it up and returning to basketball.

Related: Tracy McGrady Plays Baseball

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    Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

    I don’t know why, but this one seems a little weirder.

    According to, Tracy McGrady played baseball in high school until he was a senior.

    Now, after a highly successful NBA career, he is trying his hand at pitching. (Really? Pitching is like, the hardest.) McGrady is currently with the independent-league Sugar Land Skeeters, and according to Newsday, a big challenge so far has been command. No kidding.

    Also, why is there a video of McGrady wearing basketball shorts on a pitcher’s mound?

Curt Schilling’s Video Game Company

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Just because you like food doesn’t mean you should open a restaurant. Just because you like to play video games doesn’t mean you should start your own such company.

    In 2006, Schilling founded Green Monster Games (get it?), which would later become 38 Studios. He poured all of his baseball money into the venture.

    Boston magazine reported that before it was all said and done, the company had squandered that $50 million of Schilling’s, lost $75 million in taxpayer money and “fired” 379 employees. (Employees only found out they had lost their jobs when deposits to their bank accounts ceased.)

    In a 2012 interview with WEEI-FM in Boston, Schilling said, “I wanted to create jobs and create something that had a very longstanding world-changing effect…It just fell apart.” Uh, yea.

Drew Bledsoe’s Vineyard

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Drew Bledsoe may have lost his football job to Tom Brady, but he is doing quite well in retirement, thank you very much.

    Bledsoe owns his own vineyard, Doubleback, near his hometown in southeast Washington.

    He partnered with his childhood friend and master winemaker Chris Figgins in 2006, and the two haven’t looked back.

Tony Siragusa for Depend

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    I have absolutely nothing against adult diapers. They were the inspiration for a hilarious SNL skit that still makes me laugh to this day.

    With that said, it did seem strange that ex-NFL defensive tackle Tony Siragusa decided to become a spokesperson for Depend.

    Then again, when you read his reasoning, you might feel like a real a-hole for making fun of him. I know I did. In 2013, Siragusa told Garrett Downing of

    Then they started telling me about [how] one in six men are going to have prostate cancer in their lifetime. The numbers of two to four million guys right now leak because of an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer and they’re working really hard with the V Foundation, you know with cancer research. They are going to donate a bunch of money to them.

Jesse Ventura, Governor

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    TOM OLMSCHEID/Associated Press

    Athletes becoming politicians is not a new concept.

    However, probably the strangest instance of such a transition comes to us courtesy of Jesse Ventura. Ventura is a man who improbably found success in professional wrestling, acting and politics.

    After his retirement from the ring, Ventura turned to acting first, playing roles in the Schwarzenegger films Predator and The Running Man.

    Still not satisfied, Venture won the mayoral election in Brooklyn Park, MN in 1990. Then in 1998, he was elected the Governor of Minnesota—the first member of the Reform Party to ever win an election for a state or federal office.

    Note: Arnold Schwarzenegger would be on this list too if I considered body building a sport.

Joe Montana for Shape-Ups

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    Joe Montana won the Super Bowl MVP three times. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler. He’s in the Hall of Fame.

    You’d think his post-retirement endorsement deals might involve something a little less insult-inducing than Skechers Shape-Ups.

    Montana has claimed that these—let’s face it—femmy shoes have improved his strength and posture. But according to the Los Angeles Times, the company settled a $50 million lawsuit in 2012 for false advertising.

    As it turns out, a pair of shoes can’t make you look like Joe Montana. 

Adrian Dantley, Crossing Guard

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    I actually think Adrian Dantley’s post-retirement job makes a ton of sense.

    Dantley, former NBA small forward and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, works as a crossing guard at a middle school near his home, according to The Washington Post.

    While Dantley admits to health insurance and decreased boredom as reasons for taking the job, he also told CNN, “I’m basically doing it for the kids.”

    This one is strange because it’s unusual, not because it’s bad. You go Adrian Dantley.

Bruce Jenner, Reality TV Star

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    Frank Micelotta/Associated Press

    It’s not that unusual for athletes to dabble in reality TV upon retirement. Athlete appearances on Dancing with the Stars aren't even that terrible.

    Beyond that, athletes have come up with some weird shows (The Ultimate Catch anyone?) But none perplexes me more than Bruce Jenner.

    Why such a great champion—an athlete who once broke the world Olympic decathlon record—would choose to turn himself into such a laughing stock with this Kardashian business is beyond me.

Giovanni Carmazzi and Goats

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    Giovanni Carmazzi was pretty much a bust as an NFL quarterback (if you consider never playing in a single professional game a bust).  

    After his roster stint with the San Francisco 49ers, Carmazzi retired to Northern California where he doesn’t own a TV, but he does own five goats, according to ESPN’s The Brady 6 (via

    Goat farming is funny; I don’t know why.

Shaquille O’Neal, Police Officer

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    PETER MATTHEWS/Associated Press

    Shaq’s foray into law enforcement actually began before his retirement. He served as a reserve officer in the Los Angeles Police Department during his time with the Lakers and later in Miami when he was with the Heat. He was allowed to—get this—carry a gun and make arrests.

    In 2013, post-retirement, O’Neal was sworn in as a part-time officer in Golden Beach, Fla.

    A representative of the city told the Miami Herald, “I’m not sure when exactly he’ll be on [but] I do know that he has been brought on as a part-time reserve officer with the Town though.”

Tonya Harding, Boxer

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    JOHN GRESS/Associated Press

    This one isn’t quite as shocking when you remember that Tonya Harding is (allegedly) totally fine with violence.

    Six years after the Nancy Kerrigan incident, Harding appeared on Celebrity Boxing and redefined what it apparently means to be a celebrity.

    She then tried her hand at actual professional boxing but only fought in six fights, 20 rounds total, according to  

Randy Johnson, Japanese Game Show Star

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    So, according to Busted Coverage, retired southpaw Randy Johnson is pitching again! He’s pitching—not in the majors, not in the minors—but on Japanese television.

    That’s right. The Big Unit has joined the hilarity that is Japanese game shows. He recently appeared on one show, the premise of which seems to involve Japanese celebrities attempting to get hits off the future Hall of Famer.

    I’m sure this would be even funnier if I understood Japanese—or maybe it wouldn’t. The Randy Johnson throat slash with Japanese commentary in the background is pretty hysterical on its own.

Mike Tyson, Pigeon Whisperer

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    Stringer/Getty Images

    It’s pretty hard to name the strangest thing Mike Tyson has ever done—but becoming a pigeon racer has got to be up there, right?

    In 2011, Tyson told the New York Times, “It’s no secret that I love pigeons. They have been a fascination of mine since I was a young boy, and they continue to bring me great peace even now.”

    Tyson owns pet pigeons and races them. If you have no idea what in the world a pigeon race consists of (like the vast majority of the human race), these Animal Planet videos will explain.

    I think I have to take back what I said about Bruce Jenner being the strangest athlete on reality TV.

Rodman and Kim Jong-Un

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    Dennis Rodman is a strange guy, always has been. But his decision to travel to North Korea and subsequent friendship with controversial leader Kim Jong-un takes the cake.

    Rodman made four trips to the embattled nation and even sang "Happy Birthday" to its dictator.

    Rodman recently told ESPN that he won’t go back if that’s what the people of America want, but also added:

    At least someone tried. So that's how I look at it. You know, I don't want to be a hero, I don't want to be this, I don't want to be that. I just wanted to be, just do happy things and do great things in life. That's all I wanted to do. That's it.