They say there are three seminal events in a person’s life ( Birth, Death and Marriage ) and that we have no control over two of them. Particularly in the case of men, there is a fourth : Retirement . For men, many of whom tend to define themselves in terms of their careers, retirement often brings with it a sea change in their circumstances and an unwelcome reminder that they are getting older.
Athletes are particularly hard hit by the prospect of retirement. They are not yet at the halfway point of their lives and , very often, they are unprepared for what comes next. It also means the end of the glory years, of big money and the adulation of fans. No wonder that they hang in there as long as they can and , once retired, try to make a comeback. There are a few, very few, who retire at the top of their game though none come immediately to mind. Oh, yes, Billy Sims of the Detroit Lions is one: Rocky Marciano another. Far more common are those who either hung on too long ( Shaquille O’Neal) or who tried repeatedly to come back ( Michael Jordan, Roger Clemens ).
I used to like Brett Favre. A certain Hall of Famer, who has a SuperBowl ring and most of the career records for passing , he had been flirting with the idea of retirement for several years. After he finally retired this year, the Packers tapped Aaron Rodgers to succeed him. Scant weeks later, Favre sent out feelers about unretiring, thus putting Green Bay in a bind. Favre, who has the nerve to talk about the lack of loyaty, who never was a mentor in past years to Rodgers, then, embarked on a mission to get himself released so that he could play for the Vikings, the Packers’ long time division rival. How could he possibly expect the Packers to acquiesce , to let him go without compensation to their arch rivals? I can’t understand those Green Bay fans who were demonstating for his return. Is winningthe only thing that matters? Even assuming he was able to replicate his banner 2007 season, how many years would he have left? And what of Aaron Rodgers who had been waiting in the wings for the last two years? What would it do to him if Favre had been welcomed back into the fold? Much as I understand the reluctance of a star athlete to give up the spotlight, I am completely turned off by Favre’s graceless behavior. I wish him well with the Jets but I will not be rooting for him , or them.
What a contrast Michael Strahan is ! He retired after the Giants won the SuperBowl earlier this year and took up a gig as a sports analyst. With the season-ending injury to DE Osi Umenyora, the Giants approached Strahan about coming back and filling the void.Frankly, I had thought he might give it a try, espescially since he has been going through a bitter divorce in which his ex-wife is making demands for a huge settlement. If he had come back it would have probably resulted in a payday of $ 6 million or more. It is to Strahan’s credit that he decided to stay retired. It takes a lot of fortitude to say “No” to six million dollars but Strahan did it and I hope he sticks to his decision.
P.S By coincidence ( ? ) , this morning’s newspaper carried the news that a judge has turned down some of Jean Strahan’s demands for money. In what Michael Strahan’s attorneys described as ‘a total win’ ,the judge ruled that Jean Strahan should share responsibility for the upkeep of their children. Among some of her demands that the judge found excessive : $ 30,000 a year for landscaping, and $3000 in audio visual expenses for their 3 1/2 year old twins. Jean Strahan had already been awarded a $ 15.3 million settlement last year.