All of us regular people might have a hard time understanding why anyone would willingly walk away from a lucrative sports career in their prime. But they had their reasons.
First baseman Adam LaRoche played for six Major League Baseball teams for more than a decade. During the 2016 preseason, he suddenly announced his retirement, walking away from the Chicago White Sox and a $13 million salary. Why? According to LaRoche, team brass told him that he had to stop bringing his 13-year-old son, Drake, into the dugout for home games. (According to team brass, executives only asked him to bring Drake in a little less often.)
In the middle of the 2013 NFL season, 27-year-old Denver Broncos lineman John Moffitt quit football. After suffering from multiple injuries, chronic pain, and health problems, he felt that it was not worth it to “kill [himself] to be a millionaire.” He turned down a $750,000 contract extension and wasn’t on the roster when the Broncos went to the Super Bowl at the end of the season. (Well that didn’t last long. In 2015, Moffitt returned to the NFL, signing a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was cut from the roster before the season began.)
By the time he was just 26, Swedish tennis superstar Bjorn Borg won Wimbledon five straight times and six French Opens. And then…he retired. He later told reporters that he woke up one day and realized he’d focused on tennis his entire life, to the detriment of learning about “other things in life.” He wanted to experience life before he got too old. His first post-tennis project: a fashion line.
25-year-old Pat Tillman played safety for the Arizona Cardinals. Prior to the 2001 season he turned down a multimillion-dollar paycheck. That’s because also prior to the 2001 NFL season, the 9/11 attacks occurred. Tillman was inspired to quit football and enlist in the Army. Sadly, Tillman died in service in 2004. He was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart.