Everyone's always wondering who's going to be the next big thing. But instead of taking a look at top prospects, it's time to spotlight those athletes who maintained an impressive level of play past the age of 40.
From George Foreman to Jerry Rice, from John Stockton to Randy Johnson and many more, "Over the Hill" doesn't mean a career is over.
Fantastic after 40: Old age can't stop these athletes
Everyone's always wondering who's going to be the next big thing. But instead of taking a look at top prospects, it's time to spotlight those athletes who maintained an impressive level of play past the age of 40.
During his 20 years in the NBA, Abdul-Jabbar scored a record 38,387 points and won a record six MVPs. He was 42 when he retired.
He was a six-time NBA champ, a two-time Finals MVP and was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. His No. 33 was retired by UCLA, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Before retiring at the age of 42 in 2009, Alou distinguished himself as a dangerous hitter. With a career batting average of .303 and 332 home runs, Alou played for the Pirates, Expos, Marlins, Astros, Cubs, Giants and Mets.
He was a six-time All-Star.
When he played his final game in 2007 at the age of 46, Morten Andersen had already become the NFL's all-time leading scorer. He kicked for the Saints, Falcons, Giants, Chiefs and Vikings.
Andersen was a seven-time Pro Bowl pick and was named to the 1980s and 1990s all-decade team. Andersen needed to play on or after Dec. 7, 2008, to surpass George Blanda as the oldest player in NFL history.
Biggio retired after the 2007 season at the age of 41. The former Houston Astro recorded 3,060 hits, 20th on the all-time list. He was a seven-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover and a five-time Silver Slugger. He also led the league in stolen bases in 1994.
The QB and kicker played in an amazing 26 NFL seasons. Blanda passed for 26,920 yards and 236 touchdowns. He was 335-641 on field goals attempts and missed only 16 extra point attempts out of 959. Blanda holds the NFL record for most seasons played (26), most seasons scoring a point (26) and most PATs made and attempted.
Blanda is also the only player to play in four different decades, the oldest person to play in an NFL game at 48, the first player ever to score 2000 points and the oldest quarterback to start a title game.
Getting more and more powerful as he aged, Bonds was one of the best hitters in baseball even after turning 40.
Many believe Bonds' accolades could be attributed to steroids, an allegation the all-time home run king denies. However, on Aug. 7, 2007, at the age of 43, Bonds passed Hank Aaron to become the home run king with 756. Bonds finished the season -- and his career -- with 762 homers.
Brodeur is the winningest goalie in NHL history and led the New Jersey Devils to the Eastern Conference finals at the age of 40 in 2012.
The kicker played for 23 NFL seasons, finally retiring after appearing in two games for the New Orleans Saints in 2010. Carney kicked for the Bengals, Buccaneers, Chargers, Rams, Jaguars, Chiefs and Giants.
Carney finished his career at 46 ranked third on the NFL all-time scoring list with 2,044 points.
Chelios played a record-tying 26 NHL seasons before retiring in 2010 at the age of 48. His 1,651 games are the most for a NHL defenseman.
"The Rocket" put up gaudy numbers during a 24-year career that ended in 2007 when he was 44. Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts.
Clemens pitched for the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. He was a two-time World Series champ, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, an MVP and 11-time All-Star. In 2004 he became the oldest pitcher to ever win the Cy Young.
Clemens is facing a perjury trial for allegedly lying to Congress about steroid use.
Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Many racecar drivers compete well into their 40's, but Dale Earnhardt Sr. waited until he was 48 to reach a huge milestone - winning the Daytona 500. After 20 years of failing to capture the flag, Earnhardt beat out Terry Labonte for the win. After the race every crew member of every team lined up to shake the legend's hand.
Earnhardt's magical career and life came to a tragic end at the 2001 Daytona 500 when he hit the wall head on in crash on the last lap. He was a seven-time Sprint Cup Series Champion, the 1998 Daytona 500 Champion and a 4-time IROC Champion.
Favre, the only QB in NFL history to throw for over 70,000 yards and over 500 TDs, led Minnesota to the NFC Championship game in 2009 at the age of 40.
Favre's record consecutive regular season start streak ended because of a sprained shoulder at 297 games on Dec. 13, 2010 and he retired the following month.
It took 20 years, but Feagles finally won a Super Bowl at 41 with the New York Giants after the 2008 season. The punter played for the Patriots, Eagles, Cardinals, Seahawks and Giants.
Feagles holds the record for most consecutive games played, most punts, most punts inside the 20 and most punting yards.
The original "Pudge," Hall of Fame catcher Fisk played from 1969-1993 and had his jersey retired by both the Red Sox and the White Sox.
He won the Rookie of the Year and won a Gold Glove in 1972, was a three-time Silver Slugger winner and an 11-time All-Star. He played in his final All-Star Game in 1991 at the age of 43.
"The Nature Boy" made his pro wrestling debut in 1972 and retired at 59 after losing to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24. He was the most-decorated professional wrestler of all time and is a 16-time world champion.
Foreman, right, defied the odds during his career and kept fighting until the age of 48.
Before turning pro, Foreman won a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics. He then went on to amass a 76-5 record with 68 KOs. Muhammad Ali was the only fighter to ever defeat Foreman via KO.
Foreman retired after a loss to Jimmy Young in 1977 but made a comeback in 1987, 10 years after leaving the ring. Seven years after his comeback started, Foreman finally recaptured the title when he shocked the world and defeated Michael Moorer. The win made Foreman the oldest heavyweight champion ever at age 45 and also marked the longest time any fighter had in between title reigns at 20 years.
Before retiring at 44, Franco played for the Reds, Mets and Astros. He finished with a 90-87 record, a 2.89 ERA and 424 saves.
His 1,119 career games pitched are an NL record and rank third overall. His 424 saves are the most ever by a lefty and rank third overall.
In 2007 with the Braves, Franco was the oldest active player in the majors at 49. On April 20, 2006, he became the oldest player in MLB history to hit a home run.
He played shortstop, second base, first base and DH for the Phillies, Indians, Rangers, White Sox, Brewers, Rays, Braves and Mets. Franco finished with a .298 batting average, 2,586 hits and 173 home runs. He was a three-time All Star and five-time Silver Slugger and was the 1990 All-Star Game MVP.
Much like his former Braves teammates John Smoltz and Greg Maddux, Glavine enjoyed success well into his 40s. He retired at 42 with a 305-203 record, a 3.54 ERA and 2,607 strikeouts with the Braves and Mets.
Ricardo "Pancho" Gonzales
Gonzales was the world's No. 1 player for an unprecedented eight years in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a successful amateur player, twice winning the U.S. Championships.
Playing until he was 43, Gonzales is viewed as one of the greatest tennis players ever.
Rich "Goose" Gossage
Gossage is widely credited as being the pioneer of the closer role. He played for the White Sox, Pirates, Yankees, Padres, Cubs, Giants, Rangers, A's and the Mariners before retiring at the age of 43.
Gossage accumulated 310 saves and had a 3.01 ERA. He was an All-Star nine times, was the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year in 1978 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008.
Nicknamed the "Ageless Wonder," Green played for the Washington Redskins his entire career until retiring at 42. The cornerback finished with 54 career interceptions and six touchdowns.
Green was elected to the Pro Bowl seven times and was an All-Pro selection four times. He made the NFL All-Decade Team for the '90s and was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in '96. He played a record 20 seasons with the same team and went a record 19 seasons with at least one interception.
Henderson's last major league game came at age 44 in 2003. The Hall of Famer was the all-time MLB leader in stolen bases with 1,406 and runs scored with 2,295. He also had 3,055 hits.
Henderson played for the A's, Yankees, Blue Jays, Padres, Angels, Mets, Mariners, Red Sox and Dodgers. He was a 10-time All-Star, a two-time World Series champ, a Gold Glove winner, the 1990 AL MVP and the 1989 ALCS MVP. He also holds the record for most stolen bases in a single season with 130 and for career leadoff home runs with 81.
Hoffman was MLB's career saves leader when he retired at 43 after the 2010 season.
Holyfield may be 49, but he's not ready to hang it up just yet. Holyfield is the only five-time heavyweight champion, having last defeated Brian Nielsen by TKO in 2011.
Holyfield is 44-10-2 with 27 KOs. He defeated James 'Buster' Douglas for his first title, avenged a Riddick Bowe loss for his second title, defeated Mike Tyson for his third title, John Ruiz for his fourth and Francois Botha for his fifth.
Hopkins lost his first professional fight in 1988 but has lost only five others since, and he's still fighting at 47.
At the age of 46, Hopkins defeated Jean Pascal with a unanimous decision to win the WBC light heavyweight title on May 21, 2011, making him the oldest fighter to take a major world belt since Geroge Foreman in 1994.
"Mr. Hockey" played professionally in an unprecedented six decades. He competed for the Detroit Red Wings and Hartford Whalers of the NHL and the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers of the WHA. He played one game in 1997 for the Detroit Vipers of the IHL.
Howe, who was 52 when he skated for the final time in the NHL, won the Art Ross Trophy six times, the Hart Trophy six times, played in 23 NHL All-Star games and was named to 12 NHL First All-Star Teams. He is second only to Wayne Gretzky with 801 NHL goals and played in the most games in league history (1,756).
"The Big Unit" pitched until he was 45, a career that lasted 22 seasons. He was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, amassing a 303-166 record, a 3.29 ERA and 4,875 strikeouts.
Johnson pitched for the Expos, Mariners, Astros, Diamondbacks, Yankees and Giants. He was a five-time Cy Young Award winner, a 10-time All-Star and a World Series champion. He led the AL in ERA in 1995 and the NL in ERA in 1999, 2001 and 2002. He led the NL in wins in 2002, the AL in strikeouts in 1992-95 and the NL in strikeouts in 1999-02 and 2004.
Johnson also pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004. At the age of 40, he was the oldest pitcher ever to accomplish that feat.
Thanks to his comeback with the Washington Wizards, Jordan was able to extend his playing career until he was 40.
Jordan is perhaps the best basketball player of all time. He was a six-time NBA champion, a five-time MVP, a six-time Finals MVP, a 10-time All-NBA first teamer, a nine-time All-defensive first teamer, the 1985 rookie of the year, a 14-time All-Star, a three-time All-Star Game MVP, a two-time NBA Slam Dunk champion and a member of the 50th anniversary all-time team.
He might not be the most likable guy, but you can't deny Kent's offensive prowess. When he retired at the age of 40 with the Dodgers, Kent had hit more home runs than any other second baseman. He drove in 90 or more runs from 1997 to 2005, was a five-time All-Star and won the NL MVP in 2000. He also played for the Blue Jays, Mets, Indians, Giants and Astros.
Before retiring in 2007 at the age of 47, Kiraly earned a record 148 pro titles. He is the only man to win Olympic gold medals in both indoor and beach volleyball.
Known for his speed, Lofton played for 10 different teams.
From his MLB debut in 1991 through his retirement in 2007 at the age of 40, Lofton compiled a .299 average, 781 RBIs and 622 steals. He was a six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and drove in the NLCS winning run in 2002. He also holds the record for postseason stolen bases, the AL record for stolen bases by a rookie and the record for most different teams played for in the playoffs (6).
The veteran pitcher reached 355 wins before retiring at the age of 43. Maddux had a career ERA of 3.16 and amassed 3,371 strikeouts through his final game on Sept. 27, 2008.
Maddux pitched for the Cubs, Braves, Dodgers and Padres and won an unprecedented 17 Gold Gloves. Maddux pitched in 13 Divisional games, 17 LCS games and five World Series games. He had an amazing 2.09 ERA in the World Series and is an eight-time All-Star.
"The Mailman" never won an NBA title but was consistantly one of the league's best players. He was a two-time MVP and played for the Utah Jazz from 1985-2003 and one season with the Lakers before retiring at 40.
He was an 11-time All-NBA first-team pick, a three-time All-Defensive first-team selection, a 13-time All-Star and was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. He won Olympic gold in 1992 and '96.
Malone played until he was 40, completing 21 seasons with the Utah Stars (ABA), Spirits of St. Louis (ABA), Buffalo Braves, Rockets, 76ers, Bullets, Hawks, Bucks and Spurs.
He won an NBA title in 1983 and was named Finals MVP. He was a three-time MVP, four-time All-NBA first-team pick, a 12-time All-Star and was named to the NBA's 50th anniversary team.
Martin is still racing on the NASCAR circut at the age of 53. He has finished second in the Sprint Cup standings five times.
Moon, who played until he was 44, is the only player to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. His 9,205 pass attempts are the most in pro football history.
Moon played for the Edmonton Eskimos, Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl pick, a three-time All Pro, the 1990 Offensive Player of the Year, the 1989 Man of the Year and the 1997 Pro Bowl MVP.
Moore became the oldest light heavyweight champion at age 39 when he defeated Joey Maxim. He announced his retirement for the second time at age 49 but came back at 51 to fight an exhibition match, which he won via KO. According to some records, he finished his career with a 194-26-8 record, with a record 145 KOs.
His fastball may look like most pitchers' changeups, but Moyer is still playing in the majors with the Rockies at 49.
Moyer has played for the Cubs, Rangers, Cardinals, Orioles, Red Sox, Mariners, Phillies and Rockies. His performances in 2008 helped the Phillies win the World Series.
Mutombo was the oldest active NBA player when he retired after the 2009 season at the age of 42. Considered one of the best shot blockers of all-time, he was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year four times. Mutombo was perhaps best known for his trademark finger waggle, which he would point at a player after blocking his shot.
The 7-foot-2 Mutombo was an eight-time All-Star, named to the All-NBA second team once and the All-NBA third team twice. He played for the Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.
Navratilova is one of the greatest female tennis players of all-time. She capped her career just one month shy of her 50th birthday by winning the mixed doubles title at the 2006 U.S. Open with Bob Bryan. Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women's doubles title (an all-time record) and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.
Navratilova's singles record was 1,440-213 with 167 titles (record for men or women); her career record in doubles is 1044-183 with 177 titles (record for men or women).
Although many golfers continue playing into their 40s, only one golfer has won the Masters at age 46 -- Nicklaus. He shot a blistering 6-under 30 on the back nine during the final round of the 1986 Masters, finishing with a 7-under 65.
Nicklaus made a valiant effort to one up himself more than a decade later when he finished sixth at the 1998 Masters at 58.
In his legendary career, Nicklaus has won a record 18 majors, including six Masters, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens and five PGA Championships.
The Hall of Famer was fooling hitters with his knuckleball until age 48. Niekro played with the Braves, Yankees, Indians and Blue Jays and compiled a 318-274 record, a 3.35 ERA and 3,342 strikeouts.
Niekro was a five-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove winner, led the NL in complete games in 1974 and 1977-79 and holds the record for most innings pitched in the live-ball era.
He was never known for his offensive prowess, but you would be hard-pressed to find a more tenacious, hard-nosed defender than Oakley. He played for the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets during a career that spanned from 1985-2004.
Oakley, who retired after the 2003-04 season at 40, was named to the All-Defensive First Team in 1994, the All-Defensive Second Team in 1998 and was an All-Star in 1994.
Leroy "Satchel" Paige
Paige pitched until he was 59. Spending much of his career in the Negro Leagues, he recorded an MLB record of 28-31, a 3.29 ERA and 288 strikeouts.
Paige was an All-Star in 1952 (at the age of 46) and in 1953 and was the first Negro League player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. On July 28, 2006, a statue of Paige was unveiled in Cooper Park in Cooperstown commemorating the contributions of the Negro Leagues.
"The Chief" was able to keep trucking until age 43, playing for the Warriors, Celtics, Hornets and Bulls. He had 23,334 points, 14,715 rebounds and 2357 blocks.
He was a four-time NBA champ, a nine-time All-Star and was named to the 50th anniversary all-time team.
Perry is a Hall of Famer who compiled 314 wins over a 22-year career with the Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Braves, Marines and Royals. Perry is known mostly for doctoring balls and the use of the "spitter," but he was never ejected from a game for the practice until his 21st season in 1982.
Perry, who retired at the age of 45, was a five-time All Star, the 1972 AL Cy Young winner, the 1978 NL Cy Young winner and pitched a no-hitter in 1968.
Rice is widely regarded as the best wide receiver in NFL history. He's the all-time leader in every major statistical category at the position, was selected to 13 Pro Bowls, was named All-Pro 10 times and won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers. He also played with the Raiders and Seahawks before retiring at the age of 42.
When Rice left the NFL, his 1,549 receptions were 448 ahead of second- place Cris Carter. His 22,895 receiving yards were 7,961 more than runner-up Tim Brown. His 197 TD receptions were 67 ahead of next-best Carter, and his 208 touchdowns were 33 more than the next player on the list, Emmitt Smith.
Mariano Rivera became the MLB's career saves leader on Sept. 13, 2011, two months shy of his 42nd birthday.
Rogers retired in 2008 at the age of 43, finishing a 20-year career with a 219-156 record and a 4.27 ERA while playing for the Rangers, Yankees, A's, Mets, Rangers, Twins and Tigers.
Rogers was a five-time Gold Glove selection, a four-time All-Star and a World Series champion in 1996. He also had a 23-consecutive shutout inning streak in the postseason and pitched a perfect game in 1994.
The Ryan Express didn't leave the station until he was 46. Ryan played in a record 27 seasons for the Mets, Angles, Astros and Rangers.
He was known for his fastball, which was clocked at more than 100 mph even after reaching age 40. Ryan was an eight-time All-Star and his 5,714 strikeouts are the most in MLB history. Ryan holds the record for no-hitters with seven (including one when he was 40 and one at the age of 44) and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
By the time he officially retired in 2009, Schilling, then 42, had compiled a 216-146 record and a 3.46 ERA. He played for the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox, was recognized as an All-Star six times and won three World Series.
Schilling may be most famous for the "Bloody Sock Game." Pitching on an injured ankle in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, Schilling pitched the Sox to a victory, but the injury had gotten so bad that his white sock was stained red with his own blood. It paved the way for Game 7, which the Sox won to become the first team in MLB history to come back from a 3-games-to-0 deficit.
Pitching until he was 41, Seaver had a 311-205 record, 3,640 strikeouts and a 2.86 ERA while playing for the Mets, Reds, White Sox and Red Sox.
He was a 12-time All-Star, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, the 1967 NL Rookie of the Year and pitched a no-hitter in 1978.
Prior to his 40th birthday in February 2003, Vijay Singh had 12 PGA Tour victories in 10 years. Since then, he has earned 24 titles, including one major and one FedEx Cup victory. He holds the record (22) for most PGA Tour wins after turning 40, far surpassing Sam Snead's 17 and Kenny Perry's 11. Singh spent over 500 weeks ranked in the top 10 of the official World Golf Rankings, including a period of time in 2004-2005 where he replaced Tiger Woods at the No. 1 position.
In April 2005, the Fijian became the youngest living player ever elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, taking 56 percent of the ballot.
Smoltz dominated as a starter and closer since 1988. He played the majority of his career with the Braves, but also pitched for the Red Sox and Cardinals before retiring in 2009 at the age of 42. Smoltz went 213-155 with 154 saves, a 3.33 ERA and 3,084 strikeouts.
Smoltz was the Cy Young winner in 1996, an eight-time All-Star and World Series champion (1995). He led the NL in wins (1996, '06), saves ('02), innings ('96, '97) and strikeouts ('92, '96).
Spahn is widely considered the best left-handed pitcher in MLB history, and he pitched until age 44. Spahn had a 363-245 record, a 3.09 ERA and 2,583 strikeouts.
He played for the Braves, Mets and Giants and was a 14-time All-Star and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.
Certainly not one of the flashiest players in NBA history, Stockton played his entire career with the Utah Jazz before retiring at 41.
Stockton was a 10-time All-Star and was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was a two-time All-NBA first-team pick and five-time All-Defensive second-team selection. He finished with 19,711 points, 15,806 assists and 3,265 steals. Stockton is the all-time leader in assists. He also won Olympic gold in 1992 and '96.
Playing his last game at the age of 44 in 2007, Testaverde finished his career with the NFL record for consecutive seasons with a touchdown pass (21). He also is the oldest starting QB ever to win an NFL game.
Playing for the Buccaneers, Browns, Raves, Jets, Cowboys, Patriots and Panthers, Testaverde had 275 TDs and 46,233 yards. He was is a two-time Pro Bowl selection and threw TD passes to a record 70 different players.
Torres was the first American swimmer to compete in four Olympics: 1984, 1988, 1992 and 2000. At age 41, she earned her fifth ticket to the Games, becoming the oldest female Olympic swimmer.
A captain of the team in Beijing, Torres won three silver medals: in the 50m free, 4x100m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay. Earlier in her career she had won gold medals in the 4x100 freestyle relay in 1984, 1992 and 2000 and gold in the 4x100 medley relay in 2000. She also claimed a bronze medal in 1988 and three in 2000.
Vizquel, 45, is the oldest player ever to appear at shortstop and still solid defensively. He won nine consecutive Gold Gloves from 1993-2001 and won two more in 2005 and 2006.
Wakefield won his 200th game on Sept. 13, 2011 -- one month after his 45th birthday.
At 41 in 2007, he went 17-12 and won a World Series ring.
"Boomer" Wells pitched in the majors from 1987, when he made his debut with the Blue Jays, to 2007, when he played for the Dodgers. He has a 239-157 record and a 4.13 ERA while playing for Toronto, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, San Diego, Boston and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Wells is perhaps best known for being one of only 21 pitchers to throw a perfect game, shutting down the Twins on May 17, 1998, while with the Yankees.
Williams batted an AL-best .328 at the age of 40 for the Boston Red Sox in 1958.
Staying in good shape allowed the muscular Willis to stay in the NBA until he was 44. Willis played for the Hawks, Heat, Warriors, Rockets, Raptors, Nuggets, Spurs and Mavericks.
Willis averaged 12.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game over 20 NBA seasons.
Yastrzemski, the last player to hit for the Triple Crown, retired at 44 after a 23-year career with the Boston Red Sox.