We at S.O.S. were talking last week about Bo Jackson and all the obligatory "what might have beens". This led us to the question of "which athlete whose career was cut short due to injury or early retirement would we have liked to see finish out their playing days?"
I think Bo is the favorite here, but lets look at some of the other possibilities.
1. Roberto Clemente: After the Pirates slugger claimed his 3000th career hit, he was killed in a plane crash. However Clemente was already 38 and only had a couple of years left anyway.
2. Barry Sanders: Sanders quit with just over 15,000 rushing yards and would have clearly been the all-time leader had he not retired at just 30 years of age.
Had he played to 35, like Emmitt Smith, statistically he would have ended his career with 22,900 yards, over 4,000 more than Emmitt.
3. Michael Jordan: Mike left the game in 1993 and lost most of two seasons before returning to the court. Also, consider that when he "retired" in 1998, he left as a champion with the classic Bulls roster still intact. Could he have won eight or more titles in a row?
4. Roy Campanella: Campy had been selected to eight consecutive All-Star games when a car accident left him paralyzed in 1957. A sad story indeed, but like Clemente and our next "what if", Campanella was at the end of his career anyway.
5. Lou Gehrig: This two time MVP was one of the most resilient players in baseball history. Yet ALS took his life at the age of 38.
6. Thurman Munson: Adored by yankee fans everywhere. Killed in a plane crash at the age of 32, seven time All-Star, three time Gold Glover. AL MVP in '76 and Rookie of the Year, 1970.
7. Magic Johnson: Forced to leave the NBA when in 1991, he announced that he had contracted the HIV virus. Only 31 at the time. Three time MVP, five time NBA champion.
8. Terrell Davis: The most dominant running back in the NFL for three seasons in the late 90's. Led his Broncos to two Super Bowl championships and rushed for 2,008 yards in 1998. Never recovered from injury the following season.
Who is your choice? Who am I forgetting?
Benjamin Edwards is lead writer for Studyofsports.com