Might club

O, BY THE WAY

Favre hardly alone in indecisive retirement

On long goodbyes

August 05, 2008|By BILL ORDINE

Goodbye." It's a simple word, but sometimes it's just hard to say. OK, well maybe it's easy to say and hard to, you know, stick with it.

That has been Brett Favre's problem. He has come so close to saying goodbye so many, many times. Then, in March, he did say it. There were tears and everything.

But we all know what has happened since. Today, he'll be there when the Packers resume training camp.

But before we accuse ol' Brett of an acute case of vacillation, let's point out that he's hardly alone. The number of folks who just couldn't leave the party until they started turning the chairs upside-down on the tables is long and not merely confined to sports.

Here are a few:

* Michael Jordan. Our first example, because it's the one most frequently mentioned in comparison to Favre, is His Airness. MJ made his first exit in 1993 when he left the Chicago Bulls to try baseball. Pretty quickly he got it figured out that there was more profit in being the best basketball player in the history of the world than in being the 15th best baseball player on the Birmingham Barons. In 1999, after three more NBA championships and about a bazillion more Air Jordans sold, Michael said goodbye again only to return two years later in 2001 as a Washington Wizard (it also helps if you own the team). The final goodbye was two years later.

* Frank Sinatra. In 1971, Sinatra announced his retirement at age 55 at a concert in Hollywood, exiting with the line, "Excuse me while I disappear." But two years later, Ol' Blue Eyes was back. In fact, that was the name of the TV special and album.

* Keith Jackson. We thought we heard the last "Whoa Nellie" at the end of the 1999 Fiesta Bowl between Tennessee and Florida State. After a Cher-like farewell tour during the 1998 season, Jackson, the folksy, baritone-throated voice of college football ended the broadcast with, "And so it is done. I say goodbye to all of you. God bless and good night." That was until next season when Jackson was back in the broadcast booth, and seven years later he was calling the Rose Bowl duel between Vince Young and Texas and Matt Leinart and Southern California.

* George Foreman. Boxers are legendary for coming out of retirement, but Foreman is perhaps the granddaddy of them all. Big George not only came out of retirement, but he also completely reinvented himself. He went from a scowling, menacing, dislikable brawler who could punch an opponent into next week to a smiling, funny, adorable brawler who could punch an opponent into at least tomorrow morning. Foreman's de facto retirement came after a 1977 loss to Jimmy Young, and George had a near-death episode that resulted in his embracing religion. More than a decade later, Foreman announced his return to the ring, and even more incredible was that in 1994, at age 46, he knocked out Michael Moorer in Las Vegas to become heavyweight champion of the world. A few years later, Foreman called it quits for good.

Last month, Foreman did what you're supposed to do when you no longer do what you once did - he starred in his own reality TV show.

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

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