Photorgaph by Christopher Polk/Getty Images For BET

The Art of the Fake Retirement

  1. Chris Brown

    Chris Brown

    When he delivered his acceptance speech for Best Male R&B Artist at Sunday night’s BET Awards in Los Angeles, Chris Brown seemed to suggest he was mulling an early retirement. The 23-year-old singer mentioned his “last album that’s coming out in two days,” adding: “I just want to thank all my fans. It’s dedicated to y’all … I appreciate everything.”

    Before his rep could clarify that Brown was misunderstood—he merely meant his “latest” album—the Web took the story of Chris Brown hanging up his mic and ran with it. And none of us were particularly surprised. The premature, pump-fake retirement happens with such frequency—especially in the fields of entertainment and sports—that it's become little more than a way to drum up press and get fans excited about the inevitable "comeback." Here are some of the people who seemed to profit from calling it quits.

    Photorgaph by Christopher Polk/Getty Images For BET
  2. Michael Jordan

    Michael Jordan

    The greatest basketball player of all time actually retired a total of three times: first in 1993, when he left the NBA in a failed attempt to play professional baseball; second in 1999, when he retired from the Chicago Bulls; and third in 2003, when he left the game for good after a disastrous run with the Washington Wizards, which he co-owned.

    Photorgaph by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
  3. Jay-Z


    The rap mogul announced that his 2003 record The Black Album would be his final one. During his “retirement,” Jay-Z took on co-ownership of the New Jersey Nets and was named president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings. In 2006 he released Kingdom Come, his follow-up to The Black Album. “It was the worst retirement in history," he confessed to Entertainment Weekly.

    Photorgaph by Gregorio Binuya/Getty Images
  4. Björn Borg

    Björn Borg

    The headband-wearing tennis legend racked up 11 major victories before retiring abruptly in 1983 at the age of 25, claiming he wasn’t motivated to keep playing. Borg staged a comeback in the graphite, Agassi-and-Sampras era of the early 1990s. Still playing with his old wooden racket, he lost every single match.

    Photograph by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
  5. Oswald Grübel

    Oswald Grübel

    The German-born executive, who earned the nickname "Saint Ossie" for his work at Credit Suisse (CS), was lured out of retirement by UBS (UBS) in 2009 to lead the Swiss banking giant through the financial crisis. Grübel was forced back into retirement in 2011 after a $2.3 billion “rogue” trading scandal tarnished the bank.

    Photograph by Gianluca Colla/Bloomberg
  6. Amanda Bynes

    Amanda Bynes

    In 2010 the actress announced on Twitter: “I know 24 is a young age to retire but you heard it here first I’ve #retired.” After more than a month, just before her movie Easy A hit theaters, Bynes spoke out again on Twitter: “I’ve unretired.”

    Photograph by New Line/Everett Collection
  7. Lance Armstrong

    Lance Armstrong

    After he won his string of seven Tour de France victories, Armstrong retired in 2005. He returned to cycling in 2009 at the age of 37 for Team Astana and finished third, and then again for Team RadioShack in 2010, when he finished 23rd in his final Tour. Most recently, Armstrong attempted a comeback on the professional Ironman triathlon circuit but was banned from competition this spring by the World Triathlon Corp. after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced he is under investigation.

    Photorgaph by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
  8. Brett Favre

    Brett Favre

    The NFL quarterback became a one-man media circus in 2008 as he tearfully retired from the Green Bay Packers after 16 seasons—and then joined the New York Jets three months later. After one season with the Jets, Favre signed with the Minnesota Vikings and played two more seasons. As far as we know, since 2011 he has confined his professional life to appearing in Wrangler commercials.

    Photorgaph by Paul Sancya/AP Photo
  9. Harold Geneen

    Harold Geneen

    For more than two decades, Geneen, the acquisition-hungry executive, built ITT (ITT) into one of the largest conglomerates in the world. After stepping down in 1977, he soon began a second career as an investor buying and selling companies. “I have a belief that if you keep working, you'll last longer,” he told the New York Times in 1984. “And I just want to keep vertical.''