Monday, July 14, 2008

Just Walk Away

I hate this time of year. NFL training camps don't start for another couple weeks. NBA and NHL are finished. And MLB has a collective one game scheduled over three days. This means that ESPN and every other sports media outlet is starved for stories. As a result, they wind up attaching themselves to anything that's quasi news related, or taking something that is news related and blowing it out of proportion covering it 24/7 and to a level of detail that nobody really cares about.

Enter Brett Favre. Again. Brett has decided he wants to play again. Which means that the media is going to cover this until something else happens, and since there's nothing else that's going to happen because everything else is out of season, we're stuck with story after story about Brett Favre.

And now you're stuck with a blog posting on Brett Favre.

Brett's selfish decision has put the Packers in a lose/lose/lose situation. They don't want him back because of the distraction he would cause, and the fact the team has moved on. They don't want to trade him because they'll get next to nothing for him. They don't want to release him for fear that he'd play for a divisional rival such as the Bears or Vikings. Brett wants to do what Brett wants to do regardless of the impact it will have on the team who treated him so well for well over a decade.

Players not being able to walk away is not a new phenomenon. For decades now the graceful exit (Strahan, Elway) has been by far the exception rather than the rule. Even players like Unitas and Namath couldn't walk away at the right time. I'm sure if we started going back through history there's some ancient Greek discus thrower who competed in an Olympic Games only to be a shell of his former self.

Players play past their prime for many reasons.

For many their sport has been their entire life for 20-30 years, from pop-warner to their late 30's. They can't leave it as they don't know what else to do.

Some can't make the transition into a normal life. What do you do after being adored by millions of fans for your entire adult life?

Some can't convince themselves they've lost their abilities. Their brain is convinced their body can continue to respond as it did when they were 25. (That's of course not limited to professional athletes as anyone who's hit their mid-30's will tell you.)

Some simply need the money.

With that said, it's hard to blame Brett here. He loves the game. He can't bring himself to leave it behind. Certainly he's being selfish. But he's human.

I hope for everyone's sake that he walks away. Brett coming back won't tarnish his legacy just as the couple of seasons Emmitt Smith played for the Cardinals at the end of his career or the couple of seasons Michael Jordan played for the Wizards didn't tarnish theirs. But nobody wants to see Brett playing until he's 49, struggling to play to the level of Tavaris Jackson.

Brett - retire. I know it's not the emotional thing to do. But it is the right thing. For you, and for your teammates.

1 comment:

Joe-Bob said...

Just in case you haven't heard...

Brett has been spotted in Tampa.. with the GM for the Buc-a-roonies...