Non-retirement speech

A lot of people often say to me, “Hey Mike — you’re young, untalented, undeniably charming, AND a great lover. Have you ever thought about retiring early, before your writing gets worse than it already is?� That’s a great question, and a very relevant one for this week, considering that Miami Dolphin running back Ricky Williams recently retired after just five seasons in the NFL. But enough about Ricky Williams. Let’s talk about me.

Retirement isn’t in the plans for me just yet. For one, I still love to write. Secondly, I have no other source of income. And finally, as much as I would love to stay home all day and watch reruns of “Mama’s Family� and “Judge Joe Brown,� I would probably go crazy, at which point I would have to call a news conference that nobody would attend where I would declare my intentions to drammatically return to the field of writing. I would have to wear a #45 jersey, instead of my usual shirt and tie. And, needless to say, I would prefer not to have go through all that, because most news conferences feature bagels and juice, and I just don’t have that kind of money.

Another important reason that I refuse to retire is that I just couldn’t do that to the great people at The Courier. This newspaper, even though it has miraculously thrived from 1954 to January of 2004 WITHOUT “Big Time Sports,� needs me. In fact, each morning everybody in the office pleads with me not to retire, before they demand I get them some coffee.

Contemplating all of the various reasons that I refuse to retire forced me to do some serious contemplating, but about other people. People even slightly more famous than me. Like, for example, the aforementioned Ricky Williams.

Ricky Williams — let’s call him “Ricky� for short — has been receiving a lot of heat regarding his early and abrupt retirement. And by “heat� I mean criticism. And by “criticism,� I mean threats. You see, the people in Miami are crazy for their Dolphins, and even more so for their football team. So, they were understandably less than thrilled when they discovered that their star running back, Ricky, no longer wants to “be in the business anymore.� This, of course, means that the Miami Dolphins, who usually blow their season around December, most likely blew their season two weeks ago, when Ricky suddenly retired.

Even Joe Fan is confused by Ricky’s decision to walk away from professional football. Said Joe, “Why would a guy, who’s making like a billion dollars per carry, and probably gettin’ all kinds of crazy hot chicks, want to walk away from THAT? I mean, it’s football! You only play once a week, for like three months out of the year! How hard is that? And didn’t he sign a contract? Doesn’t he have to honor that? Plus, what about all the hot chicks? You know what I mean?�

But there’s a flip side to this issue. Ricky, who several years ago was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, and more recently tested positive for marijuana, has his own issues. Those issues are social anxiety and not being allowed to smoke weed, due to the NFL’s drug policy. Upon his retirement, Ricky said, “I’m finally free. I can’t remember ever being this happy.� How can you argue with that? It’s Ricky’s decision, so what gives Joe Fan the right to say anything about it?

Said Joe, “What gives me the right? What gives me the right? I’ll tell you what gives me the right! You see these season tickets in my hand? Do you have any idea how long I waited for these? I waited 30 years for these! My great grandfather was put on the waiting list for these tickets back in 1951, when the Miami Dolphins were the Washington Senators! Now I finally got ‘em, and I had to pay a pretty penny too! I worked for these tickets! And now I gotta watch Travis freakin’ Minor run the ball every Sunday, because this guy wants to ‘be free’? No, I don’t think so!�

So as you can see, there is more than one side to this issue, and it appears as though the people in Miami will have a lot to discuss in the coming years, like how big Shaquille O’Neal is in person, and what the heck they are going to do with all of the Ricky Williams jerseys they bought.

But I have my own opinion on this retirement question. I’d much rather see a talented athlete retire early, than watch a stats compiler stick around for too long. The list of guys who missed the retirement boat is endless, like Willie Mays, Emmitt Smith, Ricky Henderson, Billy Bob Thornton, and Freddy Adu. On the other hand, there’s a certain aura surrounding those particular stars who left too early, at the height of their careers, like Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Taylor Dane, Smarty Jones, and Arsenio Hall. Only time will tell if Ricky will be added to this prestigous list.

Time’s up. He didn’t make it.

As for me, I’m going to continue to do what I do best: not retire. I have commitments here, and I love what I do. Plus, they don’t give us drug tests.


Yeah Yeah said…
LAst weeks article was a tough one to top but I think you did it!!!