No matter how many individual accolades an athlete achieves over their careers many, if not all, would say that they would gladly trade most of them for just one championship. Just one opportunity to be crowned the respective king(s)/queen(s) of their respective realm, and for at least one day, be at the absolute pinnacle of their profession. Some athletes who achieve this pinnacle aren’t satiated, they instead go back for more, only to realize that it is extremely difficult to win it all and leave the game on their own terms.

Take Michael Jordan for example, the greatest of all time had the opportunity not once, but twice to walk away from the game as a champion. Instead he returned a third time with the Wizards, and probably couldn’t have been farther from a championship. The same fate befell Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jackie Robinson, and Jim Brown, all couldn’t escape the allure of the game. So, in celebration of John Elway’s birthday we look back on the select group of athletes who in many cases rolled the dice and came out on top, the one’s who left the game in a fashion that all who play desire. From David Robinson to Joe DiMaggio, check out, A History of Athletes Retiring as Champions.

Written by Adam Silvers (@silversurfer103)