9 Old Athletes Who Deserve a Late-Career Comeback
It’s hard to watch old athletes, especially the iconic ones. It’s only natural that skills and health fades over the course of a sports career, but it’s still a tough pill to swallow. Which is way a late-career comeback helps soften the pain of fading away. To paraphrase the adage, athletic careers end poorly, otherwise they wouldn’t end. But in the universe of old athletes, some are more deserving than others.
And a few old athletes aren’t deserving at all, but I included them on here just because their success would cause such a ruckus that that would be enough to merit their inclusion over perhaps someone else who ACTUALLY deserves some success. Nonetheless, there are many we’d like to see, because old athletes are underdogs, and nothing gets the people cheering like an underdog. Here are a list of the 9 old athletes most deserving of a career resurgence in their twilight years.
Anyone we’re forgetting?
Nope. That was rhetorical. This list is perfect. Deal with it.
Sure, Peyton hasn’t exactly aged gracefully. It seems that as he’s declined, he’s actually gotten a bit more angry and spiteful on the field. But while he’s declined in both talent and public perception, I think that we’re not ready to see him go. His playoff runs have been unspectacular, but those two-minute drills when you just know Peyton is going to score are the best. Let’s see him take one from Brady in the championship game, then maybe Romo in the Super Bowl. That would be a fun one. And, I think if Peyton can keep his cool (some yoga, maybe) and stay healthy, this actually isn’t that far off.
9. Peyton Manning
Aside from a respectable Masters run that was woefully cut short by a hand injury, Tiger has been off his game for the past 5-7 years, it would seem. That’s long enough that he’s managed to shake some of the bad press from banging a thousand Olive Garden hostesses, and actually garnered some sympathy, being the old black guy who lost his job to a bunch of privileged white kids. I don’t think we’re ready for the Tiger era to end, so rather than have him fade away, let’s get a big blowout to send off Tiger. Either another Masters win, or another scandal that involves ten times as many women. And maybe some men.
8. Tiger Woods
Nostalgia is a funny thing. My desire to go back to my halcyon days is so strong that I would actually get pretty fired up about a 50 HR, .320 batting average A-Rod season. At least, I think I would. I might actually be rooting for an outrageous start that gets the media and baseball traditionalists all up in arms, then a second half Hamiltonesque meltdown that would be equally fun to watch. Basically I want the same thing that A-Rod did to baseball fans to happen to A-Rod. But for that to happen, we’re gonna need a 9th inning rally from the maligned icon.
7. Alex Rodriguez
This guy is 41 years young, a slender 673 pounds, and he’s still kicking. He’s always been a hard guy to take seriously given his…stature, and certainly old age isn’t going to help that. Unless he gets REALLY old, then we’ll probably start getting super-impressed. But until he’s 60 years old pitching in the major league, we’ll have to root for a comeback. Because this guy’s an underdog on a fairly unremarkable team, this would be the perfect opportunity to have a Kevin Costner-like perfect game while he looks back on his career and all the delicious buffets he’s visited.
6. Bartolo Colon
Just kidding. Tom’s doing fine, folks.
5. Tom Brady
We’re seeing a step in this direction with his hiring by Fox to cover baseball, but Charlie Hustle is persona non-grata among the ranks of the MLB. I personally think Pete Rose is a bit of an ass, but it sure seems like he needs baseball in his life, and I think the MLB has been through enough in the past 15 years that Rose’s gambling isn’t the singular blemish on the league’s record that it once seemed to be. His playing days are long over (though they seemed to last forever), and I’m not saying he be made commissioner or anything, but just a “Welcome back, Pete,” from the league would go a long way towards the closure that they’ve been unable to achieve from his banishment.
4. Pete Rose
Few players are as well-liked and respected as Dirk has been over the past 15 years. Sadly (or happily, for the rest of the Southwest Conference), Dirk has experienced a pretty big fall-off from his career average numbers, and the Mavericks are the worse for it. Even though he would hurt them in competition, I don’t think many of the league’s players (or even the league itself) would mind a Dirk resurgence. He checks a lot of unique boxes as a European player, a graceful, sharpshooting big man, and a well-behaved player that’s remained loyal to his team, even taking a paycut to bring on Chandler Parsons. There are a lot of players that we’d like to see get a second wind, but Dirk is one of the few that we think might deserve it.
3. Dirk Nowitzki
Here’s another one that might be polarizing, but polarizing players are far more fun that unanimous favorites. Polarizing players give us heated arguments over who will have the better legacy, and though the Kobe vs. Jordan argument is trite and absurd, I think a late-career run by Kobe that (admittedly, against all odds) ended in a championship would definitely add another talking point to the argument. Jordan had Washington, and Kobe got his house in order, turned his team around, and won one more. Not such a no-brainer now, is it?
2. Kobe Bryant
LeBron got something of a rebirth for heading home, but Kevin Garnett’s trip back to Minnesota seemed to be out of nothing but love for his hometown, with little in the way of PR considered. He’s got so much intensity, that to see him fairly toothless on a down team is a little like seeing a grizzly bear that’s been sedated and posing for pictures at the mall. Let’s get that wide-eyed crazy SOB back to the point he was at when he signed the largest contract in NBA history. Sure, he’s not going to beat anyone with his current, beat-down body, but now he’s also dovetailing into “old man strength” territory. And I think he could throw Dwight Howard into the cheap seats with a good hip check, all the while being able to run a fastbreak the length of the court. Sure, Garnett got his due in Boston, but something about success in Minnesota, late in his career, just seems nice.