American Heritage dictionary states that to retire means to stop working, to retreat, to fade away.
Someone needs to explain this to a couple of athletes.
There are many schools of thought. There are players who try to get a position as they’re fading into the twilight, and upon the realization that there’s no demand for their waning talents, decide to retire.
Then there are those who in peak ages, decide to retire because they’ve decided their done. I still recall Brad Radke’s retirement speech, wherein he said that he was done, and he was not one of those guys that retired and then changed his mind. He also stated that “When I make a decision, I make a decision.”
Many years ago, when Ryan stated that he had a general principle in sports that he never drafted a player within three years of retirement. We pointed out in 2007 that he could draft Roger Clemens, who retired for the first time in 2003. In early 2006, he said he was going to retire after the World Baseball Classic, but he made no formal announcement. For the best, really, because he ended up signing again in late May 2006 (and for his first start, fans packed the stadium in Houston to see a dominant left-hander make the opponent look silly…unfortunately, the left-hander they wanted to see, Roger Clemens, only did an okay job. The left-hander making them look silly was a young kid making his major league debut. His name is Francisco Liriano). In 2007, he was again convinced to come out of retirement to pitch for the Yankees—he signed in May.
This all comes to light because an article I read this week proclaimed that Brett Favre is the worst flip-flopper in the history of sports. Brett Favre retired after the 2007 season (so, in early 2008). I understand it was a tear-filled event, probably similar to Bradke’s. These things happen when great players decide to retire. But Favre ultimately caved and decided not to retire. By this point, the Packers had a new quarterback, but Favre was still under contract to the Packers (yes, he retired while under contract. Go figure). They ended up trading him to the Jets. After the season with the Jets, he decided he was really done…but eventually he decided he might want to play again, so he asked the Jets to remove him from the Reserve/Retired list. And, as made major headlines in Minnesota, and minor headlines (at least) elsewhere, he signed with the Vikings.
To give Clemens some credit, he went to his hometown team first after coming out of retirement, and he also went to a former team for his final come-out-of-retirement phase. But really, I don’t see either as being worse than the others. I see them both as attention-whores. They needed to make their decision and garner the press conference before they were fully committed to retiring. I’m sure at the moment of their press conference, they were pretty sure what they wanted to retire, but clearly it was the end of the season fatigue, and as their colleagues started heading back to the stadiums in the summer, they realized they still wanted to be part of it.
I can understand that. But once you announce your retirement once, and go back on it, I think you shouldn’t announce your retirement again until you are positive—and by positive, I mean sitting out a full season. If you don’t get antsy to go back and play again, then maybe you’re ready for retirement.
Or the leagues need rules that once a player announces retirement, he cannot come back to play. These players that think they want to retire would then be forced to seriously consider their actions. Some could fade away. Some might announce that they’re not playing the next year, but they’re not retiring yet. At any rate, we don’t need dramatic emotions only to have a guy say, “Well, nevermind. I’m going to play again.”