All Of Our Childhood Sports Heroes Are Crumbling In Front Of Our Very Eyes

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Here's Proof That All Of Your Favorite Childhood Athletes Are Deteriorating

“Why are you out of breath?” someone asked the other day as I walked from our break room to my desk after a heated game of ping pong.

“Am I out of breath?” I wondered as I took a huge inhale, only to realize how fucking out of breath I actually was. But being out of shape isn’t anything new to me. I know I can’t run five miles like I used to, I know my clubhead speed is steadily declining, and I’ve resolved myself to the fact that I’ll never be able to play above the rim. And you know what? That’s fine. I can accept that.

But what I’m having trouble digesting is that every great athlete I grew up watching as a kid is all of the sudden deteriorating in front of my very eyes. I’m watching in disgust as these people, who used to be Adonis-esque gods to me, are falling off the map one-by-one.

Kobe Bryant

We all saw it on Derek Jeter’s self-righteous website, The Player’s Tribune. Kobe is retiring. And he did it by way of a fucking poem.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

As much as we didn’t want to admit it, we all saw it coming. He played in 6 games last year. He’s shooting 37% from the floor this year. Like, if you go to his Wikipedia page, this part of his career is actually called “Injury-plagued final seasons (2013–present)”. Enough said.

Brett Favre

I know we saw Favre pretty much die on the field as a Minnesota Viking, but his recent appearance on Fallon doesn’t exactly make you want to reminisce about his glory days. Like, at all.

I don’t care how shitty Jimmy was at tossing those targets — Favre’s throws weren’t mechanically sound, he was a good fifteen feet away from the intended targets, and I think you could legitimately hear his joints desperately asking to get sprayed down by WD-40.

Peyton Manning

I’m just going to say it: Peyton is done. I don’t care if he tries to give us a Brett Favre-ian comeback. He’s done, and I will refuse to watch him attempt to play.

Just yesterday, we got an update from ESPN on his condition. And it’s bad.

Manning, who has what he called a tear in the plantar fascia in his left foot, got the cast off Tuesday night and will now wear a walking boot until Friday. He said he has not thought about his playing future beyond trying to get back on the practice field.

“This is when ‘they’ and ‘sources’ seem to show their heads a little bit . . . I haven’t thought much other than about trying to get healthy,” Manning said. ” . . . I’m going to try to get healthy so I can try to get back. That’s kind of where my focus is.”

Normally in the NFL, guys don’t give up a lot of information on their injuries, whether it’s a strain, pull, tear, whatever. But Peyton just looks and feels dead, inside and out. And for anyone that thinks he should try to come back, remember this?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr is 43 now. He had his breakout rookie season for the Penguins in 1990 when I was three years old and still had no idea what hockey was. Now I’m 28, I can barely skate anymore, and despite the fact that Jagr is still in the league, things ain’t so pretty.

With the NHL transitioning their all-star game to a 3-on-3 style tournament, Jagr had to take to Twitter to tell his fans “thanks but no thanks” for the votes they’re casting to get him in.

This is on par with me scraping up every excuse in the book to not run in a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot or train for a half-marathon in February. Except Jagr has been on the NHL grind for the past 25 years rather than deteriorating his body at happy hours like the rest of us.

Dirk Nowitzki

It’s one thing for an NBA point guard to break ankles with some tasty crossovers, but McCollum didn’t even do much here to make Dirk look like a chicken with his head cut off.

And his phenomenal response:

As someone that’s taken a backseat from the NBA since Detroit won it all championship in 2004, I don’t want to see the only remaining players I know getting tossed around like that. Sure, Dirk has never been known as a stellar defender, but that was tough to watch.

But out of all these, there’s one guy that hurts the most.

Tiger Woods

Tiger did a Time interview for his 40th birthday that’s making me question whether or not he’ll win another tournament, let alone another major. When asked about his recovery goals for his recent injury, his outlook sounds bleek as hell.

But this one, I can’t. There’s no timetable. And that’s a hard mind-set to go through. Because I’ve always been a goal setter. Now I had to rethink it, and say, O.K., my goal is to do nothing today. For a guy who likes to work, that’s a hard concept for me to understand. I’ve learned a little bit of it, I think. I know that, one, I don’t want to have another procedure. And two, even if I don’t come back and I don’t play again, I still want to have a quality of life with my kids. I started to lose that with the other surgeries.

Even his rehab process makes him sound like a 75-year-old man recovering from hip surgery.

I have just started walking. That’s it.

I walk 10 minutes on the beach. That’s it. Then I come back home and lie back down on the couch, or a bed.

Dammit, Tiger. You used to have one of the most violent swings in the game and now I’m imagining you sitting on a couch in sweat shorts with your tube socks slumped around your aging ankles.

He even told a morbid-ass story about his daughter finding him helpless on the ground.

I’ll never forget when I really hurt my back and it was close to being done, I was practicing out back at my house. I hit a flop shot over the bunker, and it just hit the nerve. And I was down. I didn’t bring my cell phone. I was out there practicing and I end up on the ground and I couldn’t call anybody and I couldn’t move. Well, thank God my daughter’s a daddy’s girl and she always wants to hang out. She came out and said, “Daddy, what are you doing lying on the ground?” I said, “Sam, thank goodness you’re here. Can you go tell the guys inside to try and get the cart out, to help me back up?” She says, “What’s wrong?” I said, “My back’s not doing very good.” She says, “Again?” I say, “Yes, again, Sam. Can you please go get those guys?”

And when the interviewer brought up the fact that he had won 14 majors by the time he turned 32, Tiger’s response made me legitimately put my forehead onto my desk in dismay.

I know. It’s frightening. I’ve had a good run.

Fuck. At least he hasn’t resolved himself to being done completely. Oh, wait.

Put it this way. It’s not what I want to have happen, and it’s not what I’m planning on having happen. But if it does, it does. I’ve reconciled myself to it. It’s more important for me to be with my kids.

I miss the old Tiger. The major-winning, slut-loving wild man that inspired me to take up the game of golf. But it’s over. Tiger is over. He’s never winning again.

We all have to move on. From Peyton to Tiger to Kobe, the gig is up and it’s time to find a new crop of 23-year-olds to idolize for the next twenty years.

[via Time, CBS, The Player’s Tribune, ESPN]

Image via YouTube

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