Gold Medal: Brett Favre – 2008, 2009
It was so nice, he did it twice. Brett Favre is a one-of-a-kind athlete, and his recent indecision is something that we’ll probably never see again. In the span of three years, Favre retired twice, played for three different teams -- including his old team’s hated rival -- and didn’t even miss a single game. Few stories have gone on as long as the Favre retirement sagas did in ’08 and ’09, and with his contract running another season, we should expect an Act III to the drama in 2010.
Silver Medal: Michael Jordan – 2001
What’s more intimidating than playing with Michael Jordan? Playing with Michael Jordan when he’s also your boss. That was the case when His Airness made a high-profiled comeback with the Washington Wizards in 2001, while he was also the team’s GM. M.J. stuck around for two seasons in Washington, played better than any 40 year-old NBA player in history, and single-handedly gave the Wizards an enormous shot in the arm attendance-wise. But he couldn’t lift the Wizards to the postseason, and considering the pedigree that Jordan had set in Chicago, many considered his return to hoops a failure.
Bronze Medal: Mario Lemieux – 2000
Mario Lemieux’s comeback from lymphoma was a welcome sight for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not only did his return immediately improve the team record-wise, it went a long way in securing the team financially. Prior to 2000, the Penguins were on the verge of bankruptcy and Lemiuex assumed part-ownership of the team to save it from going under. Lemieux played an additional five seasons, missed the entire 2005 season, and finally wrapped it up in 2006 at the age of 40. More importantly, his boardroom-to-playing-room comeback was an inspiration to Jordan, who did the same thing less than a year later.
Ricky Williams – 2005
Joe Gibbs – 2004
Junior Seau – 2006, 2008, 2009