Seau�announced his retirement on Aug. 14, the Chargers, for whom the
linebacker had played for 13 years, threw a lavish party for him, replete with
cheerleaders and T-shirts with his name and number. How did the team feel four
days later, when Seau announced he had signed with the Patriots? Probably like
they should have done some research on the history of sports sayonaras, because
many athletes have trouble making retirement stick. Consider:
* Ron Mix, 1969;
Length: one year ? The Chargers apparently didn't learn their lesson, though
they were peeved at Mix (left), who called it quits following a 10-year career
with San Diego only to return with the hated Raiders. The Bolts, who had
retired his number 74, promptly put it back in circulation.
* Gary Stevens,
1999; Length: 10 months ? After gimpy knees forced the jockey to quit, Stevens
began taking GLC--a joint lubricant intended for horses--and was back in the
saddle in time for the 2000 Breeders Cup, where he won the Mile aboard War
* Keith Jackson,
1999; Length: six months ? During halftime of the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, ABC aired a
farewell to Jackson, who said he was retiring after 32 years with the network.
(Throughout the season, he'd been given a gold watch, a rocking chair and other
gifts.) By June, Jackson (right) was back at work, striking a deal that kept
him close to his L.A. home.
* Roger Clemens,
2003; Length: three months ? During Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, the
Marlins gave Clemens, then with the Yankees, a standing ovation as he left the
mound--ostensibly for the last time. By January, though, he was back, signing
with his hometown Astros, a move that didn't go over well in the Bronx.
* Reggie White,
1998; Length: three days ? Explaining the change of heart that caused him to
return to the Packers, White said, "God spoke to me." He played one
more season with Green Bay, then retired again--sitting out the 1999
season--before divine intervention led to a one-season return with the Panthers
* Jim Courier,
1994; Length: two days ? After making 42 unforced errors in a loss to Alex
Corretja, Courier, 24, said he was putting his rackets in his bag, perhaps for
good. He headed home for a vacation with his family. Said his mom, Linda,
"We got to the beach; two days later he announced to us that he was going
to New York for the U.S. Open." He played for six more years.
* Mark Martin,
2005; Length: none ? Of his '05 Nextel Cup season, the 46-year-old (left) said
"Everywhere I go, it's going to be the last [time]. I'm going to miss
seeing all the familiar faces." Late in the season, team owner Jack Roush,
who couldn't find a replacement, pleaded with him to stick around. Martin did,
and is now fourth in the standings. He could return yet again in '07.