Through four games, he’s thrown for 1,470 yards, with 16 TDs, zero picks and a passer rating of 138. In other words, in his second season with Denver, Peyton Manning looks rather cozy in a Broncos jersey. Which is surprising when you consider that just a few years ago, it was impossible to picture him in anything but Colts gear. Then again, he’s hardly the first living legend long associated with a specific franchise to change uniforms. Here’s a look at some of sports’ most iconic figures—and the teams you probably forgot they ever played for...
Joe Namath, Los Angeles Rams A 34-year-old Broadway Joe took his act to the left coast in 1977 for one forgettable year. He started four games, threw for 606 yards, three TDs and five picks. The Rams were 2-2 in those games.
Joe Montana, Kansas City Chiefs The all-time great was shipped to KC so the Niners could turn the reins over to another future Hall of Famer, Steve Young. Joe Cool delivered a Pro Bowl season and a berth in the AFC Championship game in 1993. In 1994, at age 38, he threw for 3,283 yards in 14 games.
O.J. Simpson, San Francisco 49ers Before Orenthal became a punch line, he was a pretty good running back. That is, at least when he played for Buffalo. The Juice spent 1978 and 1979 with the 49ers, where he totaled 1,053 yards and four touchdowns.
Johnny Unitas, San Diego Chargers He was Mr. Colt before Manning was even a glimmer in Archie's eye, but he hung on way too long. The latter half of Unitas' 30s were a joke – he chucked more picks than touchdowns in each season from 1968-73. At 40, Unitas went 1-3 with San Diego, throwing for 471 yards, three TDs and seven interceptions.
Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings The Packers traded the ol' gunslinger to the New York Jets. He then engineered his release to sign with the Vikings in order stick it to the Packers for going with Aaron Rodgers. At 40, he delivered one of the best seasons of his career. At 41, he delivered his worst.
Roger Clemens, New York Yankees The Red Sox let The Rocket sign with Toronto following the 1996 season, with GM Dan Duquette saying the pitcher was in the twilight of his career. Clemens got the last laugh after he was traded to the Sox archrival in 1999, going 83-42 with two All-Star appearances, a Cy Young and two World Series rings. Oh, and some nonsense about using steroids or something.
Hank Aaron, Milwaukee Brewers It wasn't exactly odd to see Aaron in Milwaukee, since he spent the prime of his career there with the Braves. It was odd to see Aaron in a Brewers uniform though. Hammerin’ Hank spent 1975 and 1976 with The Brew Crew, batting a combined .232 with 22 homers.
Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards After a three-year layoff, Jordan the executive decided he wanted to return as Jordan the player with his new team – the Wizards – in 2001. He wasn't exactly Air Jordan, but he averaged 22.9 points per game at 38 and 20.0 at 39.
Karl Malone, Los Angeles Lakers The Mailman was part of an ill-fated experiement in 2003. The Lakers loaded up on a couple of old dogs, pairing a 40-year-old Malone and a 35-year-old Gary Payton with Shaq and Kobe and cramming them into Phil Jackson's triangle offense. Malone averaged 13.2 points per game and the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the Finals 4-1.
Hakeem Olajuwon, Toronto Raptors The Dream probably should have hung it up after the 1998-99 season. He averaged less than 12 points per game with Houston in 1999-00 and 2000-01. The Rockets traded him to the Raptors before the 2001-02 season, where the 38-year-old hit career lows in points (7.1) and rebounds (6.0) before retiring.
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hardly the first living legend long associated with a specific franchise to change uniforms. Some of sports’ most iconic figures have done the same.