The Orlando Sentinel Newspaper -Retirement can be dirty word for some athletes.

Elite stars often have trouble realizing when the time has come to hang up their jerseys once and for all.

April 17, 2006|By George Diaz, Sentinel Staff Writer

At 43, Holyfield is deeper into denial. Holyfield has lost five of his last eight fights, including the last three. He has not stepped into the ring since November of 2004, when he lost a unanimous decision to journeyman Larry Donald. He had lost to James Toney and Chris Byrd in previous fights. He was suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission after losing to Donald, and has yet to find work anywhere else in the other 49 states.

He dismisses anyone who sees a practical purpose in retirement.

“I’ll fight whoever wants to fight me,” he said during a recent visit to Orlando. “I don’t pick fights but I’m definitely in them. I’m kind of just waiting in the wings for somebody to be brave enough to step to the plate.”

Kwan has been America’s Queen on Ice for close to a decade but continues to skate indecisively, perhaps wanting to shed an Olympic albatross of never winning a gold medal.

“The most important thing for me is to get healthy,” she said during a recent performance with the Champions On Ice tour in Fort Myers. “A lot of things will be based on that. I have to sit down after this tour and evaluate how I feel. That’s my main focus right now.”

A few days later at a tour stop in Greenville, S.C., she said, “I’m not closing any doors right now. Since 2002, I’ve kind of left everything wide open.”

Clemens is a bit of an odd fit here. At 43, he is a seven-time Cy Young Award winner who still has enough pop in his fastball to be a prime starter in any rotation.

While Clemens contemplates from his home base in Houston — he said on opening day that he is leaning toward retirement — his suitors continue to grovel for a change of heart.

Clemens showed up to watch the Rangers play the Boston Red Sox for the opener in Texas, stepping into a field-level box wearing gray cowboy boots as a guest of Rangers owner Tom Hicks.

“I’m not ready to commit,” said Clemens, who is expected to visit other parks as a spectator/possible employee. “If it works out and I can just fade away, that’s what’s going to happen.”

We remain skeptical. Where else can you find work that has bankrolled more than $121 million in salary since 1984?

Retirees become the Invisible Man. Former teammates are uncomfortable reaching out because they don’t want to deal with the reality that their careers will end. Fans move on to the next guy. You have to start paying for your greens fees and golf carts.

Reality stinks.

“One day they’ll find themselves at home sitting by themselves not believing what happened, ” said Cristina B. Versari, director of the Sport Psychology Program at San Diego University for Integrative Studies. “And trying to figure out what to do the rest of their lives.”оптимизацияли попал сайт под фильтр яндекса