Retirement and comebacks
September 15, 2005
Where I come from, when you take six weeks off, it’s called a vacation. After he won the 2004 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong proclaimed that the 2005 Tour would be his swan song. Last week, however, less than two months after he retired following his record seventh consecutive Tour victory, Lance issued a statement saying he was mulling a comeback at next summer’s Tour.Lance was back in the spotlight yesterday when he said that although he’d still like to “yank the chains” of the French by competing next summer, he’s not up to the challenge of fighting the doping allegations. Had he decided to ride again, though, he’d have been in good company, as there are plenty of other athletes as well as musicians who have called it quits only to be lulled out of retirement by the scent of additional fame and money or, in Lance’s case, the opportunity to irk the French media. Michael Jordan was said to be adding another chapter to his storied legacy by coming out of retirement to play with the Washington Wizards in 2001 (after previously retiring from the Chicago Bulls in 1993 to play minor league baseball with the Birmingham Barons in 1994 and then retiring from baseball in 1995 to play with the Bulls once more until retiring again in 1999). However, it’s probably a safe bet to say that if the five-time NBA MVP had the chance to do it again, he might have opted to stay retired in 1999 instead of slinking off due to injury in 2003 after two less-than-stellar years with the Wizards. Dennis Rodman attempted a few basketball comebacks, too, but apparently all 30 NBA teams collectively agreed he should remain retired. Dennis, though, has not spent his sunset years standing by idly and dying his hair. He seems to have found a new career racing cars through Frisco and Glenwood Springs and stealing cowboy hats.I’d like to think that if Andre Agassi had won the U.S. Open last weekend, he would have called it quits. Pete Sampras went out on top when he beat Agassi at the ’02 U.S. Open for a record 14th Grand Slam victory. John McEnroe didn’t exactly retire quietly or completely, although to be fair, he doesn’t really do anything quietly. Besides, it’s fun to watch McEnroe do most anything since it generally means there’s a chance to witness a top notch temper tantrum in the process.John Elway’s retirement has been fairly classy, as long as the definition of “classy” includes the moniker “used car salesman.” With advanced apologies to all diehard Nittany Lions fans, Joe Paterno might want to think about throwing in the towel while he can still differentiate between the offense and defense. Country superstar Garth Brooks, who announced his unequivocal retirement from all things music a few years ago, curiously just parted ways with his longtime record label only to sign a new multi-million dollar deal elsewhere last month. Garth is hardly the only musician to emerge from “I vant to be alone” status. Barbra Streisand has accompanied her many retirements with tours, CDs and televised concert specials. Bab’s most recent retirement will end on Tuesday with the release of her latest album. Celine Dion declared she was done sharing her voice with the world when she gave birth to her son a few years back But, if you never had the joy of seeing the lovely French Canadian thumping her chest live and in person, you still have a chance, as she’s currently in the middle of a several-year, multi-zillion dollar gig at Caesar’s in Las Vegas.Some musicians have a sense of humor about retirement, as evidenced by Phil Collins’ most recent outing, “The First Final Farewell Tour.” The Eagles planted their tongues firmly in their cheeks with the “Hell Freezes Over” tour a few years ago. Cher just wrapped up what is not widely believed to be the final leg of her three-year farewell tour.Other musicians have tried to disguise coming out of retirement by calling it a reunion. The Who loudly split-up in the early ’80s, but apparently they’re so addicted to making music that when their bassist, John Entwistle, died tragically of a heart attack on the eve of yet another major U.S. tour in 2002, they didn’t miss a beat (or a gig). And sadly, there are some performers who will need to be dragged off stage since they refuse to leave voluntarily. Loverboy should certainly be working for retirement instead of the weekend. Had Loggins and Messina never united and then retired in the first place, they could have spared us the agony of their current reunion tour. A representative from the AARP really needs to hop on board the Rolling Stones’ tour bus and teach them the finer points of shuffleboard. Although 60 might be considered the new 50, there is no circumstance other than a gay pride parade where it’s acceptable for a man of any age to prance around in public wearing leather pants, lipstick, rouge and mascara. When you’re still having babies with women who are younger than your grandkids’ kids, it’s time to count your wrinkles and your money, buy an island and arrange for some private mahjong lessons. Are you listening, Aerosmith?No matter what anyone says though, apparently there’s one man who believes that nothing says pride, tradition and hard work like staging a comeback just because, “It’s the best way to piss the French off.” Way to go out with some dignity, Lance.Meredith Cohen plans on retiring for about a week at Thanksgiving. Questions or comments may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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