Friday, January 21, 2011

Even Brett Favre says, "That's a little much"


In case you haven't heard, it has been announced that former NHL star Peter Forsberg will begin practicing with the Colorado Avalanche to determine the validity of another NHL comeback.

This is not a drill. This is not an April Fool's joke. This is real, people.


Not even Brett Favre has waffled on retirement as much as Forsberg, who indeed seemed to set the stage for Favre's ongoing sagas. Even the world of boxing hasn't seen as many white flags on a career. (OK, that's not true, boxers will continue to rule the world in calling it quits then returning as soon as someone waves a blank check in their face.)

If Forsberg wants to keep playing, I guess I get it. He did an honorable thing by playing for free for MoDo. But look, there comes a time when an athlete just needs to hang it up. I hate to call out an athlete and say they should walk away, partly because no one other than an athlete knows when he's done, but they don't always know, do they?

Just look at Favre's miserable season. Let's skip the sexting scandal and examine only how many painful injuries Favre endured as his body broke down, and how many shameful images we saw of him, either slumped on the sideline in despair or crushed underneath the weight of a defensive lineman.

And Favre was pretty darn healthy throughout his long and illustrious career.

Sticking with the NFL theme, quarterback Kurt Warner walked away from the game after the 2009 season, seemingly at the top of his game. His most recent team, Arizona, suffered for it as the Cardinals never found a quarterback, but maybe Warner knew it was his time. Maybe what happened to Favre would've happened to Warner had the latter stuck around another year.

Moving to the NHL, Mario Lemieux's comeback in 2000 couldn't have gone much better. He scored 76 points in 43 games, a staggering figure that would've easily led the league in scoring had he played the full season. The Penguins reached the conference final that season. Lemieux had one more good season in him - 2002-03 - when he had 91 points in 68 games.

But he kept going despite the ongoing problems and even after the lockout and played just 36 games over his final two seasons. In the end, it was a heart problem that ended his comeback for good, not his persistently bad back or a leg or knee issue.

Lemieux was not a staple of health - did you know he never once played 80 games in a regular season? Forsberg isn't one either. He's much more comparable to Lemieux than Favre in terms of health.

Does even Forsberg realize it has been EIGHT YEARS since he last played a regular season in the NHL in which he was able to play more than 60 games? He played parts of four seasons since then, peaking at 60 games in 2005-06 with Philadelphia. Sure, he registered 75 points that season, but come on.

At age 37, with constant foot problems, back injuries, groin issues, a concussion or two, hip problems, rib breakages, and a number of other injuries, is a comeback really wise? Especially in a league where players are bigger, faster and stronger, and guys seemingly drop like flies? Is Forsberg desperate for money or a glutton for punishment? His career in the NHL seemingly already once came to an inglorious end when he managed to suit up for only nine games in 2007-08. What makes him think he can be any healthier this time, three years later and older?

There's a fine line between "perseverance" and "stubbornness" and I'm fairly sure Forsberg crossed that line a couple years ago. Now he's back.

But hopefully not for long.

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