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.

Thursday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Guitar Kits, Memory-Foam Pillows, and Smartwatches

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As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 3. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

10 Amazing Facts About Bruce Lee On His 80th Birthday

Photo courtesy of The Bruce Lee Family Archive
Photo courtesy of The Bruce Lee Family Archive

Bruce Lee is one of pop culture's most multifaceted icons. Legions of fans admire him for his movies, his martial arts prowess, his incomprehensible physical fitness, his championing of Chinese culture, and even his philosophies on life. Yet for all the new ground Lee broke, most of his recognition only came after his death at the age of 32. Read on to learn more about the life of this profound, if enigmatic, superstar.

1. Bruce Lee’s first starring role in a movie came when he was just 10 years old.

In 1950’s The Kid, a pre-teen Bruce Lee played the role of Kid Cheung, a streetwise orphan and wry troublemaker, based on a comic strip from the time. Starring opposite Lee, playing a kindly factory owner, was his father, Lee Hoi-chuen, who also happened to be a famous opera singer. (Bruce Lee was actually born in San Francisco while his father was there on tour; Lee would move back to the U.S. in 1959).

According to Lee biographer Matthew Polly, the movie was a big enough success in China to earn sequel consideration. There was just one problem: A young Bruce Lee was getting into fights at school and out on the streets, so his father forbid him from acting again until he straightened up—which, of course, didn’t wind up happening.

2. Bruce Lee was deemed physically unfit for the U.S. Army.

While he may have walked around with body fat in the single digits and could do push-ups using only two fingers, Lee still managed to fail a military physical for the U.S. draft board back in 1963. Despite being an adherent to physical fitness all his adult life, it was an undescended testicle that kept him from fighting for Uncle Sam in Vietnam.

3. Bruce Lee was an exquisite cha-cha dancer.

Long before he was known for breakneck fight choreography, Bruce Lee’s physical skills were focused on the dance floor. More specifically, the cha-cha. In Polly’s book, Bruce Lee: A Life, the author explains that the dance trend made its way from Cuba through the Philippines and soon landed in China. And once the cha-cha settled into the Hong Kong social scene, it didn’t take long for youth dance competitions to spring up. Lee had been taking part in cha-cha dancing since the age of 14, and in 1958, he won the Crown Colony Cha-Cha Championship. Foreshadowing his later dedication to martial arts, Lee would keep crib notes of all 108 different cha-cha steps in his wallet so that he could obsessively memorize them.

4. Bruce Lee refused to lose a fight to Robin.

The Green Hornet aired its first episode in September 1966, with Bruce Lee as the Hornet's (Van Williams) lightning-quick sidekick, Kato. The series would immediately be compared to Batman, ABC's other costumed crime-fighting show, and it wouldn't be long before a two-part crossover episode was in the works. And as heroes do, before they teamed up, they first had to fight each other. According to Newsweek, since Batman was by far the more popular show, the script featured a fight between Burt Ward's Robin and Bruce Lee's Kato that was set to end with the Boy Wonder getting the upper hand. But who would really buy that?

Well, Lee certainly didn't—and he knew no one else would, either. Williams later recalled that Lee read the script and simply said, "I'm not going to do that," and walked off. Common sense soon prevailed ... sort of. The script was rewritten to change the ending—not to a Kato K.O., but to a more diplomatic draw. Though The Green Hornet was Lee's first big break in the United States, the series itself lasted only 26 episodes.

5. Bruce Lee trained numerous Hollywood stars.

As Bruce Lee worked to become a big-screen heavyweight, he made a living as a martial arts trainer to the stars. Among Lee’s students were Steve McQueen, James Coburn, James Garner, Roman Polanski, and Sharon Tate. For his services, Lee was known to charge about $275 per hour or $1000 for 10 courses. McQueen and Coburn grew so enamored with Lee over the years that they remained close friends until his death in 1973, with both men serving as pallbearers at Lee's funeral (alongside Chuck Norris).

6. Roman Polanski may have (briefly) thought Bruce Lee murdered Sharon Tate.

In addition to providing Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate with kung fu lessons, Bruce Lee also lived near the couple in Los Angeles when Tate and four others, including Lee’s close friend Jay Sebring, were murdered by the Manson Family in August 1969. It would be months before the Manson Family was arrested for the murders, but in the meantime, according to an article from Esquire, Polanski had grown obsessed with finding a suspect, looking for potential perpetrators even amongst his own inner circle.

During one kung fu lesson in the months after the murders, Lee had mentioned to Polanski how he had recently lost his glasses, which immediately piqued the director’s interest. A mysterious pair of horn-rimmed glasses had been found at the murder scene near his wife’s body, after all. Polanski had even purchased a gauge to measure the lenses and find out the exact prescription so that he could do his own detective work, according to The New York Post.

The director, without giving himself away, offered to bring Lee to his optician to get a new pair—this would allow him to hear Lee’s prescription firsthand and determine if the specs discovered at the crime scene belonged to him. It turned out Lee’s prescription didn’t match, and Polanski never told his friend about his suspicions.

7. Bruce Lee had his sweat glands removed.

Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (1973).Warner Home Video

Bruce Lee brought an impeccable physique to the screen that was decades ahead of its time. But because his roles required so much physicality, he would be drenched with sweat while filming. And apparently, the martial arts pioneer loathed the sweat stains that would show up on his clothing as a result. His solution? In 1973, Lee actually underwent a procedure to surgically remove the sweat glands from his armpits to avoid the fashion faux pas from showing up on camera.

8. Bruce Lee’s cause of death still raises questions.

Bruce Lee’s death at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973, was officially ruled the result of a cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain. Lee had complained about headaches on the day of his death, and was given a painkiller by Betty Ting Pei—an actress who claimed to be Lee's mistress—before lying down for a nap. He never woke up.

Though many reports at the time suggested Lee had an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the painkiller, Polly points to a mystery that began on May 10, 1973, when the star previously collapsed in a hot recording studio while dubbing new dialogue for Enter the Dragon.

In Polly’s opinion, Lee’s collapse had to do with heatstroke, since his stint in an overheated recording studio was compounded by a lack of sweat glands that prevented his body from cooling off naturally. Heatstroke can also cause swelling in the brain, much like was found during Lee’s autopsy. And Dr. Lisa Leon, an expert in hyperthermia at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, told Polly, “A person who has suffered one heat stroke is at increased risk for another" and that there may be long-term complications after the initial incident.

9. Footage from Bruce Lee’s Funeral was used in 1978’s Game of Death.

At the time of his death, Bruce Lee was involved in numerous projects, including the movie that would become Game of Death, his next directorial effort. According to Vice, there wasn’t much completed on the film by the time of Lee’s passing—there were some notes, a story outline (which simply read “The big fight. An arrest is made. The airport. The end.”), and 40 minutes of footage, including Lee’s now-iconic fight against NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Usually, a project in that situation would just be a lost cause, but production company Golden Harvest wanted to salvage what they could, so they hired Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse to put together ... something. The result was a Frankenstein’s monster of a film, comprised of 11 minutes of existing footage Lee shot, overdubbed clips from his previous movies, and stand-ins to fill out certain scenes. The director even resorted to using an unfortunate Bruce Lee cardboard cutout to complete one shot.

That’s not even the top rung on the ladder of poor taste: When the movie called for Lee’s character to fake his death, they used footage from his actual funeral to realize the scene, complete with waves of mourners, pallbearers, and closeups of Lee’s open casket.

10. Bruce Lee’s posthumous success resulted in its own sub-genre.

Lee’s career was exploding in China and gaining momentum in the United States by 1973, but he passed away just a month before his biggest hit was released: Enter the Dragon. The movie, which grossed more than $200 million at the worldwide box office, catapulted the late Lee to icon status. But with the star himself no longer around to capitalize, there would soon be a wave of knockoff films and wannabes looking to take advantage of the martial arts craze.

Both affectionately and derisively known as “Bruceploitation” films, this strange sub-genre of martial arts cinema gave life to z-movie oddities like Re-Enter the Dragon and Enter the Game of Death, starring the likes of—and we’re not kidding—Bruce Le and Bruce Li. Jackie Chan was even roped into a few of these movies, like 1976's New Fist of Fury. In 1980, Bruceploitation even went meta with The Clones of Bruce Lee, starring Dragon Lee, Bruce Le, and Bruce Lai, who play genetic reconstructions of the late actor after scientists harvest his DNA.