During their careers, elite athletes maintain some of the most intense workout and diet regimens known to humanity. Once those days are behind them, some athletes stay in shape, addicted to the grind. Others let themselves go, leaving the weights at the gym open for the next crop of buffed out entertainers.
In some extreme cases, these older athletes become completely unrecognizable from their former glory. Just think, you might be watching ESPN right now and not realize the analyst speaking was a top-level NFL player years before.
You won’t believe what Terry Bradshaw used to look like!
Sammy Sosa Looks Like He Hasn’t Seen The Sun In Years
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During the height of the steroid era in baseball, few players were as exciting to watch as “Slammin’ Sammy” Sosa on the Chicago Cubs. In 1998 he went blast to blast with Mark McGwire in a race to set the home run record. Despite crushing a healthy 66 bombs, McGwire hit 70 and set the record (which would later fall to Barry Bonds). Since his retirement, Sosa has admitted his steroid use and has watched as his chances of landing in the Hall Of Fame has dwindled. His muscles have also deflated quite a bit and his skin is noticeably lighter. When questioned about his extreme physical change, Sosa claimed the moisturizer he used bleached his skin. We’ll let you believe what you want.
Tonya Harding Is A Shell Of Her Former Self
The current subject of the movie I, Tonya, Tonya Harding is just as well known for the assault of Nancy Kerrigan as she is for her decorated figure skating career. Now 20 years removed from the rink, time has been kind to the former star. No longer stick skinny, Harding looks healthy and happy. It probably wasn’t easy to get there after being banned from the sport she called her life and becoming a national villain. If you’re really interested in her crime, which she has admitted some involvement in, I, Tonya details her fall from grace. Surprisingly, the film has transformed Harding’s public image, bringing sympathy and grace back to her formerly disgraced self.
The next star on this list changed more than just his public image!
Bruce Jenner Becomes Caitlyn And Starts A Revolution
Bruce Jenner shocked the world when he became Caitlyn Jenner. The former Olympic athlete who won a gold medal in 1976 in the decathlon revealed years after his retirement that he never felt comfortable as a male. Despite a successful career as an entrepreneur and reality show star, Jenner made a big change in his life when he became she publicly in 2015. Caitlyn’s family, including Kim Kardashian, supported the brave, life-changing decision that was made. Time Magazine also declared Caitlyn Jenner “Woman of the Year” in a controversial show of support. Love her or hate her, Caitlyn Jenner looks nothing like Bruce Jenner.
Brett Favre Unleashes The Mountain Man
After finishing one of the greatest NFL careers of all time, Brett Favre took his health to the wilderness. Disappearing from the public eye after an injury-filled end to his career, Favre re-emerged completely transformed. The once frat boy and fun-loving quarterback of the Packers, Jets, and Vikings re-emerged from what we can only assume was the woods. Bulging through his flannel shirt were muscles not seen in his playing days and his face was full of a glorious gray beard. The former MVP and Super Bowl Champion looks more intimidating in his mid-40s than he ever did during his playing days!
Terry Bradshaw, unfortunately, cannot make the same claim…
Terry Bradshaw Really Let Himself Go
These days, Terry Bradshaw is best known for being the crazy old man on your NFL pre-game show. Few people seem to remember that he is one of the three quarterbacks who has won four Super Bowls. Included on that list are Joe Montana and Tom Brady. Like Montana (sorry Brady), Bradshaw also never lost a Super Bowl. After he retired, Bradshaw did lose the game against his diet. Honestly, though, who can blame him? Since retiring and become “crazy uncle Terry” he is one of the happiest people on earth, and happiness is all that really matters at the end of the day.
Larry Bird Flies Away From His Diet
As a member of the Indiana Pacers, Larry Bird made his career as one of the best three-point shooters of all time. Since retiring we’re guessing Bird changed his diet to include three healthy meals a day instead of three trips to the gym. It must be hard to find time to stay in shape now as the GM of the Pacers. Even crazier, after losing Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Bird is once again the face of the franchise. Despite his less than athletic demeanor, Bird runs the show like a shrewd businessman whose main concern is still the “W.” The big difference these days is that “W” stands for “wins” and “wings.”
Next up is JaMarcus Russell, and we are sure he has never said “no” to food.
JaMarcus Russell Goes For Broke
Jamarcus Russell is one of the more interesting athletes on this list. To be truthful, his transformation started while he was in the NFL, but if you looked at him now, you would never be able to tell he was a professional athlete. Russell played college football at LSU and was one of the best college quarterbacks of all time. There is even a video of him throwing a ball 70 yards downfield from his knees. After the Oakland Raiders drafted him, he simply stopped caring, gaining noticeable weight every year he played in the NFL. After failing out of the NFL, Russell kept gaining weight and lost his hair. To his credit, he did try to get back in shape and make a comeback. Unfortunately for this behemoth, his effort was too little and far too late.
Bruce Bochy Gets Old And Grizzled
Maybe this one is unfair, but if you saw San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy you would never know he used to be a Major League Baseball player. Bochy, who at this point is most well known for leading the Giants to three World Series Championships in five years, did, in fact, used to play ball. From 1978 to 1987 Bochy played for three different MLB teams; the Houston Astros, New York Mets, and San Diego Padres. After retiring, Bochy’s knees decided they had enough. If you’ve ever seen him walk to the mound to change pitchers, you would be surprised he ever played such a demanding position as catcher. All Bochy has done since retirement is become one of the best managers of his generation, leading the Padres to a World Series in 1998, and winning three with San Francisco in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
Mark Jackson also coached after playing, but now is the definition of “eat, pray, love.”
Mark Jackson Is More Than Just An Announcer
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Mark Jackson is most well-known at this point in his career for being a color analyst for ESPN during NBA broadcasts. Few modern fans probably know that Jackson is a former player whose career spanned three decades. From 1987 to 2004 Jackson played for the Knicks, Clippers, Pacers, Nuggets, Raptors, Jazz and Rockets. In 1989 he was voted as an NBA all-star and in 1997 was the NBA assists leader. Since retiring Jackson has dabbled in a number of things including broadcasting, coaching, and preaching. One thing he has not dabbled in is his diet, as his portly figure now is nothing like the trim physique he had in his playing days.
Bartolo Colon Is The Girth That Just Keeps Giving
Bartolo Colon is a pitcher who last played for the Minnesota Twins and refuses to retire at 44-years young. Normally an athlete like Colon would never warrant consideration on a list like this, but his career transformation is too extreme to ignore. Pitching for the Cleveland Indians from 1997-2002, Colon used to be one of the most dominant pitchers in MLB. As he grew, figuratively and literally with the sport, he learned to rely more on pitch control than pitch speed. Thanks to ever his increasing size and belly power, Colon hit his first home run in 2016, proving some athletes don’t always grow past their prime!
Keith Tkachuck did grow past his prime though…
Keith Tkachuk Is An Entirely Different Person
Like a number of athletes on this list, Keith Tkachuck stopped working out once retired and included more cheat days in his diet. While playing for the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, St Louis Blues, and Atlanta Thrashers, Tkachuck was just as well known for his play on the ice well as his chiseled jaw. Since retiring, that jawline has become far less defined. Despite his unfortunate physical gains, Tkachuck is still very much involved in hockey and the growth of the sport. Currently, he is a coach in the Blues system and an investor in local sports radio. He also passed his love of hockey onto his son, Matthew, who plays in the NHL for the Calgary Flames. After Matthew retires we’ll find out if he also passed his love of food along as well!
Daunte Culpepper Unleashes His Inner Beast
Daunte Culpepper is a very large human being. Coming out of college he was listed at 6’4″ and 255 pounds. After a promising start to his career, Culpepper severely damaged his ACL, PCL, and MCL in 2005. His knees eventually recovered, but his physical playing style did not. He retired in 2008 before changing his mind and attempting a comeback. He officially ended his career with the Sacramento Lions of the now-defunct United Football League. It’s been eight years since Culpepper officially hung up his cleats, and if you look at him now you would never guess the jolly giant used to be one of the most exciting players in the NFL.
You could also say the same thing in reverse about Lenny Dykstra!
Lenny Dykstra Is A Shell Of His Former Self
Lenny Dykstra is a highly decorated former MLB player. Dykstra played professional baseball from 1985 to 1996. During that time he won a World Series, was a three-time All-Star, and won a Silver Slugger award. Choosing to retire in 1996 did not turn out well for the former great. He went through terrible financial troubles, eventually filing for bankruptcy. He was also caught cheating and was named in the Mitchell Report in 2007. The report called out players who had bought and used anabolic steroids during their careers. Looking at how small Dykstra’s arms became after retirement, it would not have been hard to guess he was inflating his muscles illegally. The only thing inflated now is his belly, and we’re guessing not from illegal means!
Tomas Brolin Looks More Like A Rock Star Than A Sports Star
Tomas Brolin is a former European soccer player from the 1990’s who was the definition of an in-shape top of the line athlete. Looking at him now, we wouldn’t blame you to think Brolin played in a rock band in his prime instead of on a professional soccer team. The now older and wiser Brolin has scruffy facial hair and long locks flowing down into his eyes. He is also quite a bit larger than he used to be. Like we said, he looks more like he refuses to let his glory days on stage die, even though he let his diet go the way of the dodo.
For Curt Schilling a similar change occurred, just in a more political direction
Curt Schilling Prefers Politics To Playoffs
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Curt Schilling was a great pitcher for 19 MLB seasons. During his career, he was a six-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion, and a World Series MVP. After he retired, Schilling became a sports analyst, working for a number of television networks and radio stations. In more recent years, Schilling has begun to leave the sporting world behind for the political one. His image has adjusted with his change of heart too. One of the major supporters of Donald Trump, it’s rare to see Schilling out in public without his MAGA hat on. Last year he even hinted in multiple interviews that he would consider his own presidential run at some point in the future.
One athlete who is not running anytime soon is coming up next!
Phil Simms Is Happy
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One of two quarterbacks to win Super Bowls starting for the New York Giants, Phil Simms spends his retirement as an analyst and broadcaster for CBS. These days Simms looks every part of his current “armchair quarterback” position too. The good news for Phil is he doesn’t look unhealthy, he just looks older and slightly more like a shape than being in shape. Can you really blame him though? Quarterback is one of the most physically demanding positions a person can play. It’s totally fair that he probably canceled his gym membership after calling it a career. At least there was a point in his life where he had a gym membership!
Michael Strahan Is The Happiest Man Alive
During his NFL career, Michael Strahan was one of the most intimidating defensive linemen of all time. In 2001 Strahan set the single-season sack record. A record that stands alone and remains untouched 17 years later. After the 2007 season, Strahan called it a career and become a television personality. The change was incredible, suddenly Strahan wasn’t mean or scary, he was laughing and smiling and it was clear how engaging and charismatic he was. His charisma carried him so high he became the co-host of Live! With Kelly and Michael in 2012. Continuing to distance himself from being scary, Strahan left Kelly Rippa in 2016 and is currently the host of his own show, The $100,000 Pyramid on ABC.
Kevin McHale retired but is still only happy on the court.
Kevin McHale Is Focused On Coaching
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The star of a Hall of Fame career that ran for 13 seasons, Kevin McHale left an indelible mark on the NBA. From 1980 to 1993, McHale was an all-star seven times, an NBA Champion three times, and an All-Defensive first team three times. McHale retired in 1993, but still had the urge to compete and got into coaching. He successfully transitioned in 2005, and his focus became less about his physique and more about his strategic intelligence. After the 2015 season, McHale was fired by the Houston Rockets and currently works as an analyst for TNT, continuing to show off he just fine being more brainy than brawny.
Next up is a former athlete so unrecognizable after leaving the public spotlight more than a decade ago.
Art Schlichter Goes To Prison
Art Schlichter could have had a bright star in the NFL. After being drafted 4th overall by the Indianapolis Colts, Schlichter ruined his career by gambling on it. Despite being in a position to never have to worry about money again, Schlichter couldn’t stop taking risks. At one point his addiction was so bad he lost $500,000 in a matter of hours. The NFL briefly banned him in 1983. When he was reinstated in 1984, the Buffalo Bills signed him but he never started another game, losing the quarterback competition to Jim Kelly. Bald and unrecognizable in 2011, Schlichter was arrested and is now serving a 10-year jail sentence stemming from fraud charges linked to his gambling. Who knows how different he’ll look when he gets released in 2021.Then again, you probably already don’t recognize him anyway!