When JuniorSeau¬†announced his retirement on Aug. 14, the Chargers, for whom thelinebacker had played for 13 years, threw a lavish party for him, replete withcheerleaders and T-shirts with his name and number. How did the team feel fourdays later, when Seau announced he had signed with the Patriots? Probably likethey should have done some research on the history of sports sayonaras, becausemany athletes have trouble making retirement stick. Consider:
* Ron Mix, 1969;Length: one year • The Chargers apparently didn't learn their lesson, thoughthey were peeved at Mix (left), who called it quits following a 10-year careerwith San Diego only to return with the hated Raiders. The Bolts, who hadretired his number 74, promptly put it back in circulation.
* Gary Stevens,1999; Length: 10 months • After gimpy knees forced the jockey to quit, Stevensbegan taking GLC--a joint lubricant intended for horses--and was back in thesaddle in time for the 2000 Breeders Cup, where he won the Mile aboard WarChant.
* Keith Jackson,1999; Length: six months • During halftime of the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, ABC aired afarewell 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 othergifts.) By June, Jackson (right) was back at work, striking a deal that kepthim close to his L.A. home.
* Roger Clemens,2003; Length: three months • During Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, theMarlins gave Clemens, then with the Yankees, a standing ovation as he left themound--ostensibly for the last time. By January, though, he was back, signingwith 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 toreturn to the Packers, White said, "God spoke to me." He played onemore season with Green Bay, then retired again--sitting out the 1999season--before divine intervention led to a one-season return with the Panthersin 2000.
* Jim Courier,1994; Length: two days • After making 42 unforced errors in a loss to AlexCorretja, Courier, 24, said he was putting his rackets in his bag, perhaps forgood. 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 goingto 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 missseeing 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.
JOHN PYLE/CAL SPORT MEDIA