Some professional athletes just can’t say goodbye to the game. Quarterback Brett Favre won’t go away. He should have hung up his spikes when his days with Green Bay came to a close. But, even in his late 30s, he couldn’t ride off into the sunset. Since then he has played for both the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, and, combining both off and on the field issues, he has damaged his reputation.
I can understand why Favre is still playing. No matter what sport is being played every athlete believes they still have something to give. It’s rare to see players still playing at Favre’s age of 41, especially football, and especially as a quarterback.
If I were playing baseball as a 35-year-old, I would be looking for a multi-year deal. It wouldn’t matter if I hit .210 this past year and was a liability in the outfield. It’s the love of the game that makes it so hard to let go.
Edgar Renteria, the 35-year-old who won the World Series MVP for the San Francisco Giants this past season, hit the biggest home-run in franchise history since Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” and is now a free-agent.
He contemplated retirement, but has decided not to, electing to play at least one more season. Obviously he has the right to play for as long as feels he can. He’s coming off a tremendous performance, and there is no doubt he can still swing the bat and play defense at short.
He has his second World Series ring, having won his first with the Florida Marlins in 1997 as a baby-faced kid. When he received his World Series MVP trophy he was teary-eyed, and understandably so.
To be in this position after making three trips to the disabled list during the regular season had to be overwhelming. To make such an impact in bringing a championship to San Francisco must have been surreal. To end a career on that note would have been an excellent way to go out. But the game keeps calling.
On one side of the equation it has to be tough to hang up the spikes after such an extraordinary performance. As a player you think you can contribute similarly over the course of an entire season.
But Renteria, who had his 2011 team option worth $9.5 million declined, is unattached. That is why decision to keep playing is hard to figure, especially after his superb conclusion to 2010.
If he is re-signed by San Francisco for a lesser amount, plays in a reserve role, mentors their youth, and returns for the Thrill of the Grass, I could understand his decision to put off retirement. But to test free-agency, potentially look for a lucrative contract, and risk struggling in his swan song is hard to fathom.
Yet, as a friend said, “He’s got the rest of his life to be retired. If he has talent and his body can hold up, keep after it. Playing is all he knows.”
“True. I’m just afraid he’s going to go to a team like the Rays and hit .230 next year. But I’d have a tough time giving it up, too.”
His decision is a surprising one, considering he’s accomplished what most players can only dream about, but it is neither wrong or right. He wants to keep playing the greatest game there is, to succeed once more in hopes of hoisting another championship trophy.
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