Everyone is allowed to have an off year. Bad judgement, injuries, personal sorrow. They all contribute.
But in the world of sports, having a bad year could lead to questions, changes and hope that time is not running out. Remember, the sand in the hourglass is only an hour long.
These athletes are still viewed as some of the best, if not in their sport, in the world today. They all had down seasons for one reason or another. Now that 2012 is in their rear view mirrors and 2013 is on the horizon, maybe all of them can get back to finding that magic that has made them so successful in their careers.
Here are athletes who will bounce back in 2013.
Two years ago, Mickelson was leading the American charge in golf. Last year, he kind of fell off the map.
Does 2013 look to be the rebound year for the 42-year-old golfer?
After his second place finish in the 2011 British Open Championship where he had the title won and lost to Darren Clarke, Mickelson has not been as solid as he has been in the past.
With four major titles and an election into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Mickelson should make this year one that proves his best game is not behind him now.
Philadelphia Phillies' sports fans got to see what $20 million buys in 2012. A whole lot of nothing. An 11-8 record after he win 19 games and finished second in the Cy Young voting in 2011.
Halladay and the Philadelphia staff must prove it can bounce back in 2013.
Based on the fact he has thrown perfect games and no-hitters in his career, this season could be another bounce back year for the 6'6" Halladay.
That could spark talk of another World Series title in Philadelphia.
For a while, there wasn't a single tennis player who could come close to Nadal and his skills. Now, injuries and illness have proven to have slowed him down.
That and the fact Roger Federer and Andy Murray have picked up their game in the last 12 months.
A story in the Huffington Post Wednesday claims his career may be in doubt.
Nadal is way too talented to not be one of the best in the world. Hopefully injuries will not play a part in his 2013 schedule.
From USC to the NFL. Wasn't Barkley the next great, "Can't Miss" prospect out of California? The college that produced Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and then Mark Sanchez with Barkley the heir apparent.
Barkley was also supposed to be the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. That isn't going to happen either. So, does 2013 become the year Barkley becomes the Aaron Rodgers of this draft?
He is way too talented to sit on a sideline and he is way too uneven to be the leader of an NFL team right away.
The 2013 season could prove to be a gold mine for this player.
Could married life agree with her and help her get back to the top of the Women's Tennis Scene?
Wozniacki is still one of the best in women's tennis. But she is no longer the top player of the circuit. Could 2013 be the year she rises in the rankings again?
In October, 2010, no one could beat her as she was the top player ranked on the Women's Tour. Now, as of December 31, 2012, she is 10th overall.
Can she climb the mountain again? If her boyfriend (possible fiance' Rory McIlroy) can claim the top spot on the PGA Tour, could that drive her to be the best again?
He is too talented to be out of the Sprint Chase. He wins races, causes confusion, pisses off fellow drivers and seems to be in the center of controversy everywhere.
When will Busch (and his brother Kurt, for that matter) put it all together and win a Sprint Cup Championship?
This season should be a little more competitive for Busch. Joe Gibbs Racing has hired Matt Kenseth to drive the No. 20 Home Depot car. Could another Sprint Cup Champion on the roster drive Busch to finally achieve greatness?
For NASCAR's sake, let's hope so.
I can almost guarantee MJD will come back with a chip on his broad shoulders. With only a tad over 400 yards for the season, that still led the Jaguars in rushing, is there anyone on the team more committed to having a better 2013?
Remember this was the 2011 NFL rushing leader who went down with an injury and no one expected him to remain off the field after being sidelined in the sixth game of the season.
Surgery last week should repair his foot and his resolve should be restored.
Also, this is a contract year for MJD in 2013. We all know what that means.
He cannot go anywhere but up after the season he had in 2012. And in some ways, we can feel sorry for the enigma of the NFL.
Tebow was brought into a situation (where he decided he wanted to be) and was handcuffed all season and did not perform because he was not allowed to. Frustration showed, arguments ensued. Things got ugly in New York.
Turn the page to 2013. With what appears to be a divorce from the New York Jets forthcoming, this should be a chance for Tebow to find a team to call his own (Jacksonville) or take a stab at the Canadian Football League.
Either way, it cannot be as bad as it was strolling the sidelines for 17 weeks without anything to show for his labor.
It may seem strange for us to start with a NASCAR driver, but this could be a poignant year for the NASCAR superstar.
While he was competitive in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, Gordon's time seems to be behind him. Jimmy Johnson is the "man" at Hendrick Motorsports and with Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. winning this past season, the man who is the Modern Day Warrior of the track is falling behind.
A good 2013 season should happen and he should win where he knows how to get it done (Daytona, Darlington, Chicago).
This is will be a turnaround year for Gordon and his crew.
He may be nearing the end of his rope. Injuries, chaos and a pure uneasy feeling with the Yankees fans may have finally forced Rodriguez out of New York.
It hasn't happened yet. But even if Rodriguez remains a Yankee, he has to bounce back from injuries in 2013.
Once thought of as the man to shatter all the major league records, it would be nice to see him remain healthy enough to play in 140 games in a season.
He still had the stats you drool over, but there were times when Brees looked human.
Maybe it had something to with the shake up in New Orleans with Sean Payton not roaming the sidelines this year or "Bounty Gate." The bottom line is there were times when defenses figured out Brees and the Saints passing attack.
The situation is a lot like Peyton Manning two years ago when he appeared to get the job done, but his skills were not as sharp.
With Payton roaming the sidelines as head coach again in 2013, Brees should have an even better season.
The all time leader in saves in Major League history proved to be mortal in 2012. Injuries helped that happen along the way, but Rivera, who is 43 years old, may finally be slowing down.
We have seen this before and in the present with the Yankees roster with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and other Yankees greats. The one thing that remains consistent with this team is Rivera.
A torn ACL kept him out of action most of last season. This season should be one of redemption for Rivera, who should be able to improve on his numbers and continued success striking out the best hitters in baseball.
He just seems to unravel in the last month of the season. The lasting image we will see of Romo, who has had a pretty good season, is throwing an interception that cost the Cowboys a playoff spot.
Still, to this day, Romo has won only one playoff game. And you know that has to be weighing on Jerry Jones' mind each year this team underachieves.
Romo and the Cowboys seem to be a perfect fit until December when things come undone. Can the star quarterback take this team to where it needs to be in 2013?
Given a better running game, it is quite possible.
He let two major titles slip away this year especially the U.S. Open. At 43, are Furyk's mental and physical game beginning to erode or slip away?
Let's hope not. If there is someone who embodies consistency on the PGA Tour and is as stoic as the day is long, it is Furyk.
While the Major Championship failures are on him, the breakdown at the Ryder Cup was a group effort. Hopefully 2013 will be a resurgence of his skills and his place that remains among the best in the world.
His team finished 8-8 on the season, which is indicative of how the team teetered on the side of uncertainty this past season.
One thing is for certain, however. Roethlisberger is a tough quarterback who fights through injuries and his stink on the sidelines this year was part of the downfall of his Steelers team.
Because of his resiliency in most cases and his love of the game and the fact he is strong-armed and mobile for his size, "Big Ben" will have a comeback season that could rival Peyton Manning in 2013.
We could all certainly make a joke here that Eli played a lot better last season without the pressures of playing in a season where brother Peyton was breaking records.
Last year, Eli won a Super Bowl. This year, he looked like he had happy feet and was off target and wasn't the same player he was last year.
Oh yeah, his brother Peyton was breaking records in Denver this season and could be the league MVP.
Manning will be out to prove he can still lead this team to the Super Bowl. And if anyone is counting, he still has one more championship ring than big brother.
There were four major golf titles in 2012 in which Tiger Woods was in the hunt after the 36-hole mark. And in all, Woods could not achieve greatness. Does this mean Woods is getting better as time goes on and injuries heal, or has the game overtaken him?
Whatever the reasons for his failures in 2012, which does not include seeing him play some of the best golf he has played in five years, players like Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley are the new standard by which the PGA is judged.
That alone should drive Woods to play even better and harder in 2013.
Now that the Big Apple is his...
Rex Ryan stays. Mike Tannenbaum is out and Tim Tebow is waiting to be released. Mark Sanchez, even with the awful season he had in a Jets uniform, is still the quarterback of this team.
An offseason that will still be busy because of the New York press could be made a little easier with new offensive weapons, a re-dedication to practice and control and a few less high-profiled relationships (Eva Longoria).
Sanchez still has the skills of a winner. New York Jets fans could still have hope of a winning formula in the Big Apple.
He was the fire baller of the National League. Was happens to be the operative word here. For the first two seasons in the majors, no one could touch Tim Lincecum. And his setback this past year comes in a season where the Giants won the World Series again for the second time in three seasons.
All pitchers have a few setbacks, let's hope this is not a standard which will continue. Much like Dontrelle Willis of the Marlins a number of years ago, baseball needs characters like Lincecum with his hear and "Bad News Bears" look-a-like form.
Injuries and a reckless style of play have limited Mike Vick the past two seasons. That and the fact the Philadelphia Eagles have not been that good in that time span.
Now that the Eagles brass and Andy Reid have parted ways, it seems almost an certainty that Vick will not return to the "City of Brotherly Love."
Could he thrive in another city like New York with the Jets or in Arizona with the Cardinals or even in Jacksonville with the Jaguars? Of course. An offense with the right coach helps.
It may not be a reunion with Reid somewhere in the NFL, but Vick should bounce back in a new surrounding.