Donovan McNabb was recently let go by the Minnesota Vikings. He could possibly be picked by a contending team needing a quarterback. But I doubt it - no one has called for his services yet.
By most accounts, DNabb’s last two seasons (with the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings) are considered bombs. His quickness and elusiveness, gone. His QB rating is in the basement. In my opinion, DNabb should hang it up and walk away.
I know that is harsh and easier said than done. But its a sad sight to see an elite superstar, -who has lost several steps, underperforming as a shell of his former self. Sort of like old movie stars that don’t have the star power but still play young roles.
It was painful to watch our sports heroes Willie Mays, Johnny Unitas, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Brett Farve limp out of the game instead of gracefully exiting.
Why is it so hard to leave? Why is it so hard for players to walk away when the organization, coaches, critics and game film tells you to hang it up?
It's so hard because it requires the athlete to walk away from a game he has known most of his life. A game that was fun. A game that evolved into a profession. A game that gave them world wide recognition and self-identity.
The sport is probably their first love and most definitely their surrogate family. In fact, they spend more time with their sports family than with their wives, kids and blood family.
Second, their warrior mentally is to never give up, be dedicated, make a commitment and work hard to achieve success. These attributes were embedded in their brain from about 6 years old and absorbed into the soul. Now all of a sudden with a mind that say Yes I can and a body that says I am too tired there are voices that utter the hereto forbidden and alien words: quit, retire, and walk away.
DNabb is no different, football has been his oxygen and he is being asked to stop breathing.
As fans, we may assume they don’t want to walk away from the bright lights and big paycheck but there’s more too it than that - camaraderie. Your teammates have been your surrogate family and best friends that had your back through thick and thin. I’m sure it is hard to give up that camaraderie that has insulated them from the outside world.
I think the luckiest professional athletes are the ones who are blessed to play their sport, retire and become associated with their sport through coaching, broadcasting, agents or other avenues. This is seen as the next step in their career and not the end of it. As McNabb reflects over his career, I’m sure he will realize that hardest part was never his opponents or the Philadelphia fans but walking away from the game that is a part of your essence.