High-profile athletes play their entire careers under the glare of the spotlight and to the cheers of adoring fans. These athletes often experience great success on the world's highest stage. But what do these athletes do to keep their competitive fire stoked after retiring? Some athletes disappear from the main stage and find it difficult to duplicate their past success. But many athletes find other careers that enable them to continue making meaningful contributions to society. Here are six athletes that have found that there truly is life after sports.
IN PICTURES: 8 Money-Saving Tips For Sports Fans
Michael "Air" Jordan has won just about every accolade that a player could ever dream of having. Jordan made 14 All Star Teams, won 10 scoring titles, six NBA championships, five MVP awards, and has the highest scoring average in NBA history. (These rookies started out as nobodies and were paid accordingly - but their results were extraordinary. Don't miss Financial Pro Sports Steals.)
The greatest basketball player of all time has stayed busy since his retirement from the NBA in 2003. Jordan has served as a high-level executive with both the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats. Recently, Michael Jordan made history by becoming the first ex-player to own a majority interest in the Charlotte Bobcats. Jordan is hoping to turn the struggling Bobcats franchise into a perennial power.
Steve Largent was the NFL's all-time leading receiver when he retired from the Seattle Seahawks in 1989. He had the most career receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Largent did not just make an impact on the field but off it as well. In 1994 the Hall of Fame wide receiver was elected to represent Oklahoma's First District in Congress. Largent served eight years in the House of Representatives before retiring to seek the governorship in Oklahoma in 2002.
Largent narrowly lost the gubernatorial election by just under 7,000 votes. He currently serves as the President and CEO of CTIA, which lobbies the U.S. government on behalf of wireless telecommunication companies.
Troy Aikman is known best for being the three time Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. The number one pick of the 1989 NFL teamed up with Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin to make the Dallas Cowboys the team of the '90s. (These multi-millionaires have squandered away their fortunes through bad financial decisions. Check out 7 Costly Pro Athlete Screw-Ups.)
Troy Aikman retired after the 2000 season and joined Fox as a football commentator. Aikman has since become a star in the broadcasting business as a lead game analyst. He has covered NFC Championship Games, Super Bowls and major NFL events. Aikman has found success trading in his jersey for "America's Team" and teaming with Joe Buck to form Fox's number one announcing team.
"Sir Charles" was a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court. Barkley was an undersized power forward who turned himself into a Hall of Fame player through sheer will and determination. (These multi-million dollar contracts have haunted the players who scored them, then failed to deliver. Check out Top 10 Most Hair-Raising Sports Contracts.)
The former Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns star took a job at TNT after retiring from the NBA in 2000. His direct speaking style and straightforward manner have helped to make Barkley a hit with NBA fans. He is the one of the best studio analysts in the entire league. The Emmy award-winning combination of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson have teamed up for the past 10 years to form the best studio team going.
Barkley has hinted that someday he would like to throw his hat into the political ring and run for governor of Alabama.
It is not too often that a Hall of Fame player goes into coaching. It is rarer still that a Hall of Fame player finds success in coaching. Mike Singletary is this exception. The head coach of the San Francisco 49ers is one of the rising stars in the NFL.
Singletary has changed the culture in San Francisco and has a winning record after his first two seasons. He brings the same fiery personality and attention to detail that was evident when he roamed the middle of the field during the '80s for the Chicago Bears "Monster of the Midway" defense. Singletary has transformed the 49ers from a perennial doormat to a divisional contender.
The competitive cycling champion has overcome tremendous adversity to win the Tour de France seven consecutive times. Armstrong became a racing legend by winning the Tour de France after a horrific battle with cancer.
Since his retirement from racing, Armstrong has devoted his time and energy towards raising money to help fight cancer through the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Armstrong has returned to cycling to promote his LIVESTRONG brand and provide hope and inspiration to other cancer survivors. (If you had placed these wagers, you would be very rich in 2010. Read Sports Bets That Would Have Made You Rich In 2009.)
The Bottom Line
Just because an athlete retires, it doesn't mean that they are destined to fall away into anonymity. Many high-profile athletes are enjoying the same level of success in other careers after their playing days are long over.
Check out last week's business highlights in Water Cooler Finance: My iPad Beats Your Toyota.