Monday, March 23, 2009
A professional athlete's comeback doesn't go as planned! Film at 11!
A pithy way to say that is that Lance Armstrong's comeback attempt failed. He has broken his collarbone and probably won't be ready to go for the grueling Tour de France in July.
Lance Armstrong is just the latest casualty of the rocky unretirement in professional sports. But he's not alone in his unfortunate situation. It just doesn't work very often.
In fact, if you take away the sport of boxing where guys retire and return 12 times during a career, you have a pretty short list of successful returns to a professional sports.
Off the top of my head I can think of maybe three:
1.) Roger Clemens- If you count his mini-retirement from the Yankees and return to the Astros. He didn't really spend much time away from the game though. It was more like a prolonged off-season.
2.) Too Tall Jones- He retired from football to box and then returned to the Cowboys to have another solid decade of play
3.) Michael Jordan- This is the one that really worked. He rules the league, leaves to suck at baseball, and then returns two years later to win three more championships. Well done indeed, sir. But even then he tried to screw his comeback up with his little stint with the Washington Wizards.
Of course, Jordan retired in his prime, so he didn't return after a full career of wear and tear.
Most of the time we see the return of a sports great only to have the whole thing deflate like a cheap air mattress.
And sometimes it's even worse like when Lyle Alzado tried to make a comeback with the Raiders in 1990. He pumped himself full of steroids and then ended up with brain cancer. The professional athlete comeback attempt has proven over and over again to fail.
Yet athletes keep trying and we keep cheering them on. Jets fans were so excited at the beginning of last season with the arrival of Favre. He was going to be the missing piece between a 9-7 season and the division title. Then they realized he was old. I know the shoulder injury stopped Favre from being effective, but that's part of returning to sports. If you haven't been working out during the off-season, your body isn't ready to go full speed again.
I know it's pride thing. It's probably a boredom thing too. I know Lance Armstrong is still in better shape than myself or anyone else I know. But when you see an athlete retire and then return, just stay away from the train tracks because chances are it's going to derail.