NFL Stars Face the Tough Decision of Retirement

gregory caldarellaAnalyst IJuly 23, 2008

Retirement has become a very interesting and tough decision for many aging athletes.

Look no further than football to uncover many different cases of retirement. There are many different factors that have played into the retirement question, and often we don't get the full story.

Being a big Giants fan, retirement has hit home the last couple of seasons for the G-Men. It was well-publicized two seasons ago that Tiki Barber was strongly leaning towards walking away from the game at season's end.

But there were those that simply could not believe that he would fade off into the sunset while he was still obviously in his prime. Tiki cited health concerns as a reason for his early departure but then later proceeded to rip his former team, thus leading to much speculation of the true reason for his retirement.

Barber often sounded off on Coach Tom Coughlin and even hinted that if Coughlin were not the Giants' head coach he probably would have still been playing.

If that weren't enough, he went on to say Eli Manning was not a leader and laughed at his attempts to step up and be vocal in the locker room.

Tiki Barber also is in love with himself and his image. Don't get me wrong though; I loved Tiki as a player, but he has a weird way of dealing with things.

He knew he could pursue a much less physically demanding profession in the broadcast booth and took the easy route.

Guys all over the U.S. would kill for such talent and here is a guy in his playing career prime so ready to give it all up. Sure, we cannot relate to the physical pounding these players take in a given year but he is not the first running back of his stature to play the game.

I also stated that he began to lose his love for the game and if that is true then so be it. But, I think he was feeding the media exactly what they wanted to hear.

Watching him carry the Giants, almost single handedly, into the playoffs in the last week of his last season proved to me that he hadn't lost the love for the game.

In my mind, he was just selling out as a football player.

Michael Strahan decided it was also time for him to hang up the cleats, but this happened under very different circumstances.

Strahan was strongly considering retirement before last season, as he was coming off of a painful foot injury and began questioning how much more he had left in the tank.

It seemed like forever before he made his final decision of returning for at least one more year, but I was very happy he did.

Strahan was the heart and soul of the Giants defense for as long as I can remember. He played his heart out all year and showed just what type of player he still was.

He was lucky enough to make the right decision in returning, as he was finally part of a Super Bowl Championship team. Think about how he would have felt sitting at home on the sofa while the Giants did the impossible.

He might have even found himself rooting against his former mates for selfish reasons. But who is to say what you would be feeling if you were in such a situation?  I guess you could ask Tiki Barber, couldn't you?

Strahan did ultimately walk away after being on top; presumably a much better feeling than just walking away. The thing with retirment now is that the option of working as an analyst after your career is beginning to become a viable one.

Tiki and Strahan are both working for broadcast companies, and it seems like it has becoming an increasing trend for retired players to go that route after their playing days are over. Just look at how many ex-players you find putting their two cents in on ESPN.

I don't care what these guys have to say about the game. I want to see them still playing, because almost all of them still can. Now that's my little selfish view on the matter, but I know some guys who make the decision to retire at the wrong time.

Some attempt to come back, while others fight the urge and stick with their initial plan. Brett Favre should never have retired, and we would never have to hear about this nonsense 24/7 on ESPN.

It's tough to put your finger on why some feel it is time and sure there are reasons that we would never understand as fans. But wouldn't you like to know the real reason as to why some players make the controversial decision.

Why did Barry Sanders leave behind everything without a clear-cut reason? Why would Tiki almost follow the same blueprint that Barry left behind?

Why wouldn't Strahan return to defend the title? Why would Favre retire after being so close to the Super Bowl yet again?

These are questions that us fans will never get the true answer to and that is why retirement is a tough pill to swallow as a fan...