A Bittersweet Symphony: A Generation of Sports Icons Is Coming To an End

Lucas WeickCorrespondent IJuly 20, 2010

SEATTLE - APRIL 18:  Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field on April 18, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The sports world has been dominated by a hand full of iconic athletes over the past decade or so, unfortunately it is time to say goodbye to one of the greatest generation of players in the history of sports.

A man, whose last name no one could pronounce when he came into the league, has rewritten the NFL record books.

A kid who started his illustrious career in Seattle, is now a member of the 600-home run club, and single-handedly put the Mariners' franchise on the map.

A young tennis phenom with his hair in a ponytail when he started, has become the greatest tennis player ever, winning an unprecedented men's record of 16 Grand Slam single's titles.

A Tiger has won 14 Majors since he joined the PGA Tour in 1996 and has dominated the landscape of golf.

And a seven-foot, 325-pound giant has become one of the most dominating big men in the history of basketball.

Brett Favre, Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, and Shaquille O'Neal have all become legends in their respective professions and make up what I consider the greatest generation of players in sports history (probably bias since I have grown up with these iconic athletes).

Griffey has already retired and will be remembered as the greatest player from the steroid era in baseball who was clean and played the game the way it was supposed to be played. Undoubtedly a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Brett Favre has yet to announce his retirement or return this year, either way, he will go down as the greatest quarterback ever, statistically speaking, with his record 398 career touchdown passes and streak of consecutive games played. An unquestionable Hall of Famer

Shaquille O'Neal has not yet signed with a team this offseason and could possibly end up retiring, but he will always be a fan favorite and be remembered as a dominating presence on the court (and off the court for that matter). The NBA Hall of Fame better clear some space for the big man.

The end for Roger Federer appears near as he has fallen to the No. 3 tennis player in the world, his lowest ranking in nearly seven years, but he is the greatest man to ever pick up a racket to me and his record of 16 Grand Slam titles, which still could be added to, will stand alone for a long time. A true immortal in the game of tennis.

Tiger Woods has had injuries and "women trouble", which have seemingly been the reason for his fallout recently, and his quest for Jack Nicklaus' Majors record might be out of reach now, yet Tiger has been the best thing that happened to golf in a long time and his past decade of play is one of the most prolonged time periods of sustained dominance the game has ever seen. Tiger put golf back on the map.

So the song "Bittersweet Symphony" by the Verve, truly fits, as the greatest generation of sports legends passes, we can only hope the next one is half as good as this one.