Open-Mic: Athlete Retirements

Ryan Senior Writer IJuly 23, 2008

Retirement in pro sports is often a thing that is overlooked until a star arrives at his twighlight.  When should he let go? Under what terms?

There is no right or wrong answer on when an athlete should retire.  After all, it truly is that person's decision, and outside sources—other than the opinions of immediate family—shouldn't affect their decision.

Still, some hang on too long, whether in the pursuit of an elusive championship or simply thinking that they still have what it takes to stay at the top of the mountain.

Some get the message.  Take Wayne Gretzky, for example.  "The Great One" saw a decline in his production and an erosion in his skills during the latter part of the '90s and hung it up for good in 1999, walking away with his dignity and pride intact, while leaving his imprint on the sporting world unblemished.

Others don't. These are the "hangers-on" types.  Mark Messier. Chris Chelios. Julio Franco. Not terrible but nowhere near as effective as they have been in the past, only damaging their legacy in the process.

Some want so badly to win a championship that they hang around far longer than needed.  Dave Andreychuk, while still a contributor, wasn't the garbage-goal machine of his hey-day when the Tampa Bay Lightning helped him hoist his first Stanley Cup.

Then there are those who hang on simply because they enjoy playing.  We all know about Brett Favre by now. The guy loves playing and thinks he's pretty good at it—which he is.  With Favre, he needs to make up his mind early for the good of his team and family, then stick with that decision.

In my opinion, the time to go is when you stop enjoying it.  Who really cares what the fans think? As long as you can go do your job everyday and enjoy it, nothing should stop you from suiting up.

Unless, of course, you can go out on top, a la John Elway and Ray Bourque.  After all, who wouldn't want to leave on that note?