Williamsport — Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
Let that sink in a little as the world falls into chaos around you. For 20 seasons we cheered, cried, booed, and cried a little more. Brady has been the bane of most NFL fan’s existence for 20 seasons. He has broken the hearts of every fanbase except maybe the Cleveland Browns. I’m convinced Browns fans are either numb to the team by now or don’t even know it still exists.
It’s a new world now as Brady will open the 2020 season in December (joking) with the Buccaneers. He will be playing for a new team in a new conference that will actually be debuting new uniforms. Everything will be new. Before we all start gushing over Brady’s new digs and what the future might hold for the league’s all-time losing franchise, let’s take a look at some other older players to jump ship at the end of their career.
National Football League
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Manning lasted four seasons with the Broncos. He finished with a 45-12 record with the team and won Super Bowl 50. He made the Pro Bowl three times and passed for 17,112 yards, 140 touchdowns, and was the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards for a brief moment with the team.
Joe Montana, Kansas City Chiefs
It was a shock to nearly every fan of the NFL when Montana sported the Red uniforms of the Chiefs to close out his career. His play on the field, which culminated with an appearance in the 1993 AFC Championship game, shocked even more people. Montana closed an easy first ballot HOF career with two seasons that resulted in 5,427 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. There was even able win over his former team.
Joe Namath, Los Angeles Rams
Broadway Joe made a name for himself in the Big Apple as the Jets signal caller for 12 seasons before moving across the country to finish out his career with the Los Angeles Rams. Unlike the first two quarterbacks on the list, Namath didn’t go on to have success with his new team. In just four games Namath passed for 600 yards, threw three touchdowns against five interceptions, and finished with a 2-2 record.
Emmitt Smith, Arizona Cardinals
Smith left the Dallas Cowboys after 13 seasons and more rushing yards than any running back in NFL history. He played two seasons for the Cardinals and rushed for 1,193 yards and 11 touchdowns. The team finished with an 8-17 record, but Smith did become the oldest player in NFL history to throw his first touchdown pass over the stretch.
Jerry Rice, Oakland Raiders/Seattle Seahawks
Rice will help get back to the positives with more than just fluky stats being the highest accolades. Rice was outstanding with the Raiders and helped the team reach the Super Bowl. He posted a 1,000-yard season at 40 years old and was voted to the Pro Bowl. He also became the first player to catch a touchdown pass in four Super Bowls.
Brett Favre, New York Jets/Minnesota Vikings
The long and complicated relationship between Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers finally ended when they elected to send the aging quarterback to New York to play with the Jets. It was one of the strangest moments in league history as Favre made his first appearance with the Jets against Miami. He ended up winning his first game 20-14 before dropping the next two. He bounced back and got the Jets to 8-3 before falling in four of his final five games and failing to make the playoffs. Favre came back after a second retirement to join the Vikings and shined with one of the Packers biggest rivals, beating Green Bay twice in the regular season. Favre would reach the NFC Championship game, but would fall on an interception in overtime. Favre has the most pass completions (6,300), attempts (10,169), and most consecutive 300-plus pass completion seasons at 18.
Junior Seau, New England Patriots
Seau had two good seasons with the Patriots, quarterbacking the team’s defense through its undefeated regular season. Eli Manning spoiled the hopes of a Super Bowl, but Seau was still outstanding with one of the best regular season teams in league history.
National Basketball Association
Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards
Couldn’t start this one without the biggest name of all. Michael Jordon joined the Wizards and the world stood on its head as he moved out of Chicago for our Nation’s capital. Jordan, after giving up his ownership shares, joined the team for two seasons. His first season was cut short, but he did average 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Kobe Bryant was the only player to average those numbers over the first half of the season. Even when Jordan failed to do certain things his greatness was on full display. On December 27, 2001 Jordan scored six points against the Indiana Pacers (a career low). It was the first time in 866 games Jordan failed to score in double figures. His second year wasn’t as impressive from a result stand point, but he was the only player to play in all 82 games for the Wizards and he averaged 37 minutes per game.
Carl Malone, Los Angeles Lakes
The ‘Mailman’ headed to the City of Angels for one last shot at a title after multiple failed attempts with the Utah Jazz. Malone wasn’t able to cash in with the Lakers. Malone wasn’t bad for the Lakers. He was fourth in minutes played on the team and averaged 13.2 points per game. The team finished first in the Pacific division with a 56-22 record. Malone helped the Lakers win three consecutive playoff series, defeating the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Minnesota Timberwolves before falling to the Pistons in the finals.
Gary Payton, Miami Heat
Payton closed out a Hall of Fame career with the Heat. It might be one you’ve forgot, which isn’t hard to do. Payton played in 81 game his first season, but averaged 7.7 points per game. It was the lowest total since 7.2 his first year in the league. It got lower the next year when he appeared in just 61 games an averaged 5.3 points per outing. It certainly won’t define Payton’s career. Heck it might not even be one we remember.
Patrick Ewing, Seattle Super Sonics/Orlando Magic
Some might not even remember the Super Sonics, but yes Seattle had a team and yes Ewing played for them. What come as even more of a shock is that fact Ewing also played in 65 games for the Orlando Magic to closeout his Hall of Fame career. He started four games for the Magic and averaged six points a game. His final two years in the league were the only ones her failed to average in double figures.
Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers
This one might be different from the rest by the simple fact you know Nash played for the Lakers. That doesn’t take away the fact he was terrible, ending a Hall of Fame career with a flop. He joined the most popular team in the league and played in just 65 games in two seasons.
Major League Baseball
Greg Maddux, Los Angeles Dodges, San Diego Padres
Maddux stepped on the field as a 20-year-old player to make his debut in the Majors for the Chicago Cubs. He went on to play until he was 42, playing 23 seasons and striking out 3,371 players in the process. He’s in the Hall and is one of the most memorable players of his generation. Can you name his final two stops? Time’s up. It was the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Just like it says next to his name! All joking aside, Maddux won 355 games in his career. Only eight come over the final two years as he looked out of place on the west coast.
John Smoltz, Boston Red Sox/St. Louis Cardinals
Here’s a fun stat that helps you remember why nobody actually remembers John Smoltz playing for either the Boston Red Sox or the St. Louis Cardinals—he won just three games in two years between the two teams. That in just a total of 11 appearances over the final two years of his Hall of Fame career.
Eddie Murray, Anaheim Angels/Los Angeles Dodgers
Murray closed out his career in the warm weather of the west coast playing for the Anaheim Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Maybe, just maybe you might remember his small stint with the Angels, but he actually went back to the Dodgers for nine games in the same season.
Frank Thomas, Blue Jays
Thomas, you know the guy from the commercials, finished out his career with the Blue Jays after playing the majority of it with the White Sox. He also joined the Oakland A’s and hit his 500th homerun with the team. It was part of a playoff run by Oakland that ended with three losses to the Twins. Thomas finished with 521 career homeruns and only 11 came with the Blue Jays.
Randy Johnson, San Francisco Giants
Johnson’s career is filled with highlights, World Series, and birds being destroyed. Johnson also highlighted the Little League World Series last year by throwing out the first pitch. In his career he won 303 games, but only eight came with the Giants as he put together a forgettable season to close out a dominant 22-year run in the Majors.
O.J. Simpson, San Francisco 49ers
Johnny Unitas, San Diego Chargers
Tony Dorsett, Denver Broncos
Wage Boggs, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Willie Mays, New York Mets
Ken Griffey, Jr., White Sox