What Happens to Great Athletes When Time Begins To Run Out?

Kevin WeedallContributor IApril 6, 2009

As humans begin to live longer so are the careers of many of today’s athletes.

Every sport has the great comeback story about the hero that just couldn’t hang up the spikes or the gloves. These are the athletes that seem to get better with age and always seem to find a way to persevere when the chips are down.

In the last 10 to 15 years there have been to many comeback stories or stories of athletes staying in they’re respective sports too long. From the boxer that couldn’t hang up the gloves and can barely speak to the quarterback who couldn’t take the fact that his team who he had played most of his career with didn’t want him anymore.

These guys may not win it all but they go out on the field of play battered and bruised week in and week out to entertain us (and collect those million-dollar paychecks of course).

We watched Joe “Mr.49er” Montana go to the Kansas city Chiefs to extend his career just a little bit longer as we all know he didn’t win it all in KC but he put up a good fight and went down swinging and putting some more fans in the seats for the Chiefs.

Jerry Rice soon eventually followed and suited up for the Raiders and he actually got to a Super Bowl only to be undone by the Bucs.

We all watched as Brett Favre unretired for the umpteenth time last year to give it one more shot for a different green jersey.

He did admirably in the first half of the season looking like he might be what the Jets were needing to get to the postseason only to have his arm basically fall off and lose all sense of any accuracy that the old man had left.

Baseball has seen its great comeback or career extension stories kind of get thrown in the wood chipper as of late since the whole steroids debacle. Would Roger Clemens have been able to stay in the game as long as he did without roids?

Would Barry Bonds have gotten to break the record without them and without being able to stay in the game as long as he has, I doubt it.

Although we did see Curt Schilling give up a tendon in his Achilles heal to win another championship and we did see Greg Maddux give it his all to try and bring a title to poor Chicago fans that have been hoping for ever.

Boxing is the king of comebacks it seems like with the resurgence of Riddick Bowe coming back and getting pummeled in the lower regions of his anatomy by Andrew Golotta.

Spinks getting the toughness completely knocked out of him by Mike Tyson and then later down the road we see Mike Tyson getting knocked around or disgracing himself by biting ears off.

Then we come to Evander Holyfield—just like Clemens and Bonds—he was found to be a steroid user and we know how many times he has comeback and done it successfully.

I enjoy a comeback as much as the next guy but when the athletes are doing to fuel they’re own ego and going through whatever measures they have to just to be able to either stay in the game like Clemens or get back to the game like Lyle Alzado I think it cheapens the true mark that they made on their sport before they got to that point.

It's not up to us to decide when its time for these guys to hang it up and nor should it be since there are just as many success stories in the comeback chapters in the book of life as there are the disastrous chapters in the same book.

I just hope that in the end of their careers they realize that the integrity of the game is worth much more than the extension of a storied career, no matter how great it seems.


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Kevin M.Weedall