Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A New Way to Retire...Not Retiring!

I am a sentimental guy; I really am. I have been to retirement parties. It moves me to think that someone has reached a point where they no longer have to work. It is a bittersweet thing to watch. When someone has worked hard to build a career, retiring is a very emotional experience. One of my dearest friends retired from the produce business he had built with his own sweat and sustained for over 40 years. He shared with me how much he had sacrificed regarding quality time with his family. When he retired, it was the end of a long and sometimes painful career. He found many new ways to occupy his time, including spending time with me. In my mind, that is what retirement was supposed to be.

Retirement seems to have a new face these days. Three faces, specifically.

Brett Favre had a celebratory career as the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. His retirement was to have catapulted him into legendary status. It didn't quite work out that way. Not even a year later, he announced that he was coming out of retirement. Green Bay didn't take him back, so he played for the Jets. Then he retired again. Then he came out of retirement again. Now he is a Viking. That's cool. I mean, being a professional athlete unfairly forces you to retire in your 40s. In the non-athletic world, that wouldn't happen. The only thing that really bothers me about Brett Favre is that now his legacy is more of a joke. He deserves better than he gave himself.

I cannot remember a time when Ric Flair was not in wrestling. I am a lifelong fan of the sport, in no small way due to the accomplishments of "The Nature Boy," Ric Flair. He retired at last year's Wrestlemania with the pomp and circumstance worthy of his contributions. Untold numbers of wrestlers owe their careers to this man. He was the shining star of pro wrestling, and anyone who wrestled him became great because of him. Many things that go on in pro wrestling today originated with men like Ric Flair.

So I turn on TNA Wrestling the other day and I see Ric Flair. Look, I get it. Wrestling was his life. I would rather die in the ring than retire. But now seeing him with another company cheapens his retirement and the celebration of his accomplishments. Woooooooooooo!

Then of course, we have Jay Leno back on The Tonight Show. I am still waiting for the dust to settle on this one. I watched and DVR'd his final Tonight Show. It was nice, meaningful, and it was clear that he had lived up to the legacy.

Then came Conan O'Brien.

Then went Conan O'Brien.

Then came Jay Leno...again.

So what does it all mean? I don't know, but I am not going to any more retirement parties.
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