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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Heroes also grow old

Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2010, at 1:19 AM

When you spend way too much time thinking and obsessing about sports, you tend to get some distorted perspectives when it comes to age.

For example, I felt old the other day when I looked at the NBA All-Star Game roster and realized I was older than more than half the players. Even worse, several of the guys older than me (Allen Iverson comes to mind) had no business playing in the game. They were too old and only there on reputation.

Another example is the life expectancy of NFL running backs. If I were a pro running back (OK, take a minute to stop laughing ... I'm waiting ... I'm waiting ... waiting ... Done now?), I would likely have a maximum of two serviceable years left in me. I heard reports today no one was likely to pursue free agent future Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson. At 30, the dude is 18 months older than I am. Yikes!

But what I think really gets me is seeing my heroes get old. These guys stop competing and move on to something else. What hurts worst is seeing them be either mediocre (Larry Bird) or downright terrible (Isiah Thomas) at their post-athletics career choice.

Which is why it's been kind of painful to see Michael Jordan in the news lately talking about buying the Bobcats. It also blows my mind that he turns 47 today.

I remember watching the greatest basketball player of all time at his prime, and it hurts me to see him a bit overweight, approaching middle age. I guess one could argue he's doing well as the general manager in Charlotte -- the team is headed for the playoffs in the first time in its history -- but a lot of reports seem to indicate he's an absentee GM.

I guess as I was watching Jordan winning those six championships, I never really thought about what came next. These athletes retire with half their life still to be lived. If they aren't able to go on and be highly successful in the sports world or outside of it (think Bill Bradley), then we don't seem to want to see them.

Is that wrong of us? Maybe, but it just seems to be how it goes.

Of course, there's always the freak of nature who defies it all. Washington Redskins great Darrell Green turned 50 yesterday. How did the former fastest man in the NFL (throughout his 20-year career, by the way) celebrate? He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds.

I'm pretty sure the old man could still play cornerback in the league.



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Jared Jernagan
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.