Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Great Athletes Seldom Quit - Unfortunately

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Great Athletes Seldom Quit - Unfortunately

Article excerpt

John Elway, easily the best quarterback in the National Football League these days and perhaps the best who ever played the game, has the opportunity to do something even better than he has done in many a star-spangled effort on the field.

Yes, sir, better than leading the Denver Broncos on 45 fourth- quarter scoring drives to win games; better than being the winningest quarterback in NFL history; better than throwing and completing more passes for more yards than all 18 of the Hall of Fame quarterbacks

He can quit. In a perfect world, this is what Elway - who in his 15th year with Denver finally led the Broncos to their first ever Super Bowl victory - should do. He says he'll announce his decision, oh, in a while. Meanwhile, waiting for John consumes pro football fans these days. Please, John, quit. Here's why: Athletes rarely quit when they are on top. They just can't bring themselves to walk away from the roar of the crowd and the siren call of the dollars. By failing to call it a career at the optimum moment - Elway holding the Super Bowl trophy over his head following last January's triumph over Green Bay is a fine example - our memories of them are not as eternally glowing as they should be. Joe Namath in many ways made pro football as the multitalented and outrageously brash quarterback of the New York Jets. He predicted his upstart team would whip heavily favored Baltimore in Super Bowl III, whereupon it did. But, sadly, knee-braced Namath couldn't bring himself to quit. He was sent packing to Los Angeles in his final year where for the most part he stood on the sidelines and looked both pathetic and pitiful. Should have quit, Joe. Arnold Palmer, who in many ways made golf (91 tournament wins) with his swaggering game and dazzling smile, couldn't bring himself to quit. It has been painful for years to watch Arnie miss cuts in golf tournaments he used to dominate; it's painful to watch Arnie shoot 80s these days. He hasn't won in a decade. Should have quit, Arnie. Muhammad Ali, who in many ways made boxing with his mouth that roared and the ability to back up his words with deed, couldn't bring himself to quit. …

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