By Greg Mandozzi ‘18
As we grow older, our generation continues to say goodbye to living legends who have seemingly played as long as we have lived. From Derek Jeter to Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning, and of course our hometown hero David “Big Papi” Ortiz, we see players competing until their bodies simply cannot anymore. They give years of taxing conditioning and workouts until their bodies crumble to a point where they simply can’t do it any longer. In a way, they often give up their health and peace of mind for the game they love. Recently however, we are seeing athletes call it quits early, salvaging their bodies and their health while still playing the game for years. The NFL is seeing this most prominently. It is safe to say that some great players won’t be in the league next season.
For example, let’s take our very own Jerod Mayo. The 29 year old linebacker has made headlines by deciding to end his career immediately. A Patriot his whole career, Mayo was the defensive play caller, a leader, and a man you would expect to have a few years left playing. This fan favorite has been riddled with injuries, and took some big ones this past season. He must have felt it wasn’t worth playing more football, and risking possible life altering injury.
One of the most shocking retirements we have seen in a while, was when Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch decided his time was up as an NFL running back. A position that arguably takes the most hits, running backs usually tend to have shorter careers than other positions. However, it did strike me as surprising that the widely known as the number one back in the league has decided to finish at the young age of 29. A marketer’s dream, Lynch is known for his love for Skittles, his hate for the media, and he has made it clear to us, he is only here so he doesn’t get fined. The Seattle Seahawks are going to have to fill big shoes in the backfield next season, and the league will lose one of their most colorful personalities.
Not many football players become so good they get a nickname, let alone “Megatron”. Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has proven the name suits him nicely, and that he is very deserving of such high praise. He has been a top five receiver in the league for years, and though he has declined a bit, he is still among the league’s elite. This makes it all the more puzzling to find out that he too plans to hang them up. At the age of 31, he has evidently caught his last pass in an NFL uniform.
It is clear that today, we are seeing athletes attempting to go out on their own terms, before they are beaten too bad. The myriad of cases of concussions and wear and tear injuries the NFL has seen over the years has definitely given a lot more awareness to the public, and the current players. Playing the game you love is fun, until you are so hurt that it becomes painful. After football, you still have decades of life to live, kids to watch grow up, and grandkids to greet as they enter this crazy world. You have vacations to go on, people to share memories with, and experiences to enjoy. Give the game everything you have, until it threatens to compromise your well being, and your families future. Like anything that is enjoyable, and active, you have to know when to walk away, and only you know when that time comes for you, where you are at peace with it, and it appears the recent NFL retirees know that time for them is now.