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Your! Call: Who had the best post-retirement return?

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Ken Rodney, TSN.ca
10/4/2012 4:06:39 PM
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Formula One superstar driver Michael Schumacher is retiring from auto racing for the second time at the conclusion of the 2012 race schedule.
 
Schumacher made his name winning multiple titles with both the Benetton and Ferrari teams before returning from retirement to have a second run with Mercedes.

Many athletes have followed the path of retiring only to find that they still have a desire or a want to remain in the game.

The question is which athlete had the best post-retirement return?

On March 18th, 1995 retired Chicago Bulls forward Michael Jordan issued what would be one of the most famous and shortest press releases to the media; it contained only two words, "I'm Back".

The next night, a very familiar player stepped back into the basketball spotlight wearing a very unfamiliar number 45 and proceeded to drop 19 points on the Indiana Pacers.  He reinvigorated the 1994-95 Chicago Bulls but they were eventually eliminated in the playoffs by the Orlando Magic.

It would take until the next season before Jordan returned to form but he was once again able to return to his championship level, leading the Bulls to three consecutive titles bringing his career total to six.

Upon his return, Jordan was able to average almost the same numbers he was achieving before he retired after the Bulls third straight championship in 1993.

After retiring from the NHL in 1997, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Mario Lemieux was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame without having to wait three years for his eligibility.
 
Due to financial troubles with the franchise, Lemieux eventually stepped in as the head of an ownership group that bought the Penguins in order to keep them in Pittsburgh and he became the President and CEO.

Lemieux made his return to the ice for the Penguins on December 27th, 2000 in a 5-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs where he contributed a goal and two assists.

Though he wasn't able to lead the Penguins to another Stanley Cup Championship in the five seasons he spent with the club on his return, he was the captain of the Olympic team that captured gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Following a 1997 season where he set all-time records for most career wins as a starting quarterback (160), most passing yards (61,655) and most touchdown passes (442), Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre announced his retirement from the NFL.

Before even a game had been played, Favre decided he wanted to return to the game but his team had already moved on to Aaron Rodgers as their starting pivot.

The Packers dealt Favre to the New York Jets and, though he was average in his first post retirement season, he joined the Minnesota Vikings and led them within a game of the Super Bowl, losing to eventual champions, the New Orleans Saints.

Favre would play one more season for the Vikings before retiring for a second time.

After retiring 19 games into the 1984-85 season, Montreal Canadiens forward Guy Lafleur was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Following that honour, Lafleur returned to the ice for three seasons with the New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques adding 42 goals to his career total.

George Foreman retired after a 1977 loss by decision to Jimmy Young, but 10 years later, returned to the ring reeling off an impressive string of victories that got him back into the heavyweight title picture.  On his third attempt at a belt, he knocked out champion Michael Moorer to once again become boxing's best heavyweight.

Lance Armstrong and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are two more examples of athletes that retired and then returned to the sports where they thrived but our question to you is, which athlete had the best post-retirement return? It's Your! Call.

Michael Schumacher (Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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