The Peyton Manning saga has finally come to an end (at least until it’s time to see whether he can actually still throw the ball) and the Colts legend will conclude his career as a Denver Bronco. If you find it difficult to picture Manning in a Broncos jersey, you’re not alone. Manning’s the latest in a long line of superstars who became so identified with the team and city they played for, only to conclude their careers in a foreign jersey.
This is a list of the 15 ballplayers who looked most out of place in new uniforms at the end of their careers.
Top 15 Strangest Looking Uniforms
15. Karl Malone – Los Angeles Lakers
The rest of the country was barely aware that there was a professional basketball team in Utah until Karl Malone and John Stockton arrived in the mid ‘80s. Malone scored more points than any player other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while building the Jazz into a perennial playoff contender. However, in ‘03, he signed with the Lakers in hopes of winning the championship that had eluded him throughout his career. Unfortunaetly, he fell just short once again as the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the NBA Finals.
14. Duke Snider – New York Mets and San Francisco Giants
The Duke was a mainstay in centerfield for the Dodgers for 16 seasons, powering the team to two championships (One in Brooklyn and one in L.A.) During the 1962 season, the Dodgers sold him to the Mets, where he was instantly a crowd favorite from his days in Brooklyn. After one season in New York, though, he asked to be traded to a contender and was sold to the Giants. Years earlier, his teammate Jackie Robinson retired rather than play for the Dodgers’ arch rival, but Snider accepted the move and concluded his career with one unproductive season in San Francisco.
13. Franco Harris – Seattle Seahawks
Harris was an important component of all four of the Steelers’ championship teams in the 1970s, and in ‘72 he won a playoff game in stunning fashion with his “Immaculate Recpetion.” The Steelers cut the popular veteran before the ‘84 season after he threatened to hold out for more money. He signed with the Seahawks and ran for a few hundred yards in his lone season with the team.
12. Hank Aaron – Milwaukee Brewers
“Hammerin Hank” smacked home runs for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves organization for 20 years. In 1974, just months after he broke Babe Ruth’s record, the team traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers so he could prolong his career in the American League as a designated hitter. His numbers significantly declined over his two seasons with the Brewers, though he was selected to his 21st All-Star Game in 1975.
11. Emmitt Smith – Arizona Cardinals
Smith ran for more yards than any running back in NFL history during his 12 years with America’s team and was arguably the Most Valuable Player on their Super Bowl teams of the mid ‘90s. After his record-breaking 2002 season, the Cowboys hired Bill Parcells to rejuvenate the floundering franchise and he promptly cut Smith, who then signed with the Cardinals where he languished behind a weak offensive line for two seasons.
10. Patrick Ewing – Seattle Supersonics and Orlando Magic
Ewing was the centerpiece of the New York Knicks franchise from the moment they selected him with the first pick in the 1985 draft. He led them to two NBA Finals, but by 2000 the Knicks had transitioned into an up-tempo team, ill-suited for his aging knees. Unwilling to meet his demands for a contract extension, the Knicks traded Ewing to the Seattle Supersonics where he played for one season before riding the bench for the Orlando Magic the following year.
9. Ray Bourque – Colorado Avalanche
The all-time leading scorer for NHL defensemen suited up for the Boston Bruins for 21 seasons. In 2000, the team was in rebuilding mode and Bourque asked to be traded to a contender. Management honored their captain’s request and shipped him to Colorado, where he capped off his career by winning the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in his final season. He brought the cup to Boston to celebrate at a rally with Bruin fans.
8. Joe Montana – Kansas City Chiefs
“Joe Cool” quarterbacked the 49ers to four Super Bowl victories while earning a reputation as one of the greatest clutch performer in football history. After he missing the entire ‘91 season and most of ‘92 with an elbow injury, the team decided to go with the younger Steve Young at quarterback and traded Montana to Kansas City. At 37 years of age, he still had something left in the tank and he led the Chiefs to the AFC championship game in January 1994.
7. Bobby Orr – Chicago Blackhawks
During his 10 years with the Boston Bruins, Orr won three MVP awards and scored the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals in ‘70 and ‘72. Then, in ‘76, he turned down a lucrative offer from the team, which included part ownership, to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Crippled by knee injuries, he played in only 26 games in three seasons with the Blackhawks and famously never cashed a check from the team, because he felt he hadn’t performed up to expectations.
6. Willie Mays – New York Mets
The “Say Hey Kid” roamed centerfield for the New York/San Francisco Giants from 1951-72. Widely considered the best all-around player in the game, he led the team to victory in the 1954 World Series. At 41 years of age, Mays was washed up when the Giants sold him to the Mets in 1972. The hearts of baseball fans sank to the floor when he misplayed two fly balls in the World Series during his final season in 1973.
5. Brett Favre – New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings
Favre wasn’t just Mr. Green Bay, he was the face of the league during his tenure with the Packers. The Mississippi gunslinger created countless indelible images in that green #4 jersey and though he began his career with the Falcons, after 16 seasons with Green Bay it seemed inconceivable that he could ever play for another team. But as Favre contemplated retirement in 2008, the Packers committed to Aaron Rodgers and shipped Favre to the Jets. He suited up for New York for one season before closing out his Hall of Fame career with the Packer’s rival Minnesota Vikings.
4. Johnny Unitas – San Diego Chargers
Unitas was the field general of the great Baltimore Colts teams of the late 1950s and one of the individuals responsible for the surge in popularity experienced by professional football in the United States. From 1956-72, he led the team to two championships and won three MVP awards. By 1973, his body had broken down and the Colts traded him to the San Diego, where he played five games for the Chargers before retiring after the ‘73 season.
4. Joe Namath – Los Angeles Rams
No athlete was more associated with the spotlight of New York than “Broadway” Joe. He was the Jets’ quarterback from 1965-76 and led the team to a legendary upset over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. By the mid ‘70s, knee and hamstring injuries had sapped him of his mobility, and in May ’76, the Jets waived him so he could sign with the Los Angeles Rams. Broadway Joe just didn’t look right in a blue and yellow jersey, playing in only three games for the Rams before calling it a career.
3. Babe Ruth – Boston Braves
Though he began his career in Boston, the Babe was so synonymous with Yankee baseball that Yankee Stadium became known as “The House That Ruth Built.” In the twilight of his career he desired that he wanted to manage, but the Yankees had no intentions of replacing skipper Joe McCarthy, so they sold Ruth to the Boston Braves in 1935. Overweight and broken down, the Great Bambino played less than two months for the Braves before walking away from the game.
1. Michael Jordan – Washington Wizards
When we envision M.J. soaring through the air with his tongue wagging or knocking down a game-winning shot, he’s wearing a red Chicago Bulls jersey. However, three years after retiring from the Bulls, discontent as co-owner of the Wizards, Jordan came out of retirement at the age of 38 to play for his new team. Though he still performed at an All-Star level, the air was out of his game, and the Wizards failed to make the playoffs both seasons he took the floor.
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