This morning I returned to work following my longest consecutive days off stretch since my honeymoon in the summer of 2006. A lot has changed for me in that time, namely a (now very mobile) 9-month old daughter. But this much has remained consistent: I really like being home.
I want to preface anything that follows with the following: I genuinely enjoy my job.
That’s not a fabrication. I do enjoy my job. But c’mon now, let’s be honest with ourselves. There’s intention behind our Powerball participation. No matter how rewarding, no matter how enjoyable, there’s a reason it’s called work. And if we could hit that jackpot, we’d hang up our cleats in a heartbeat – travel the world, buy that property with bathrooms in excess and a hot tub on the deck, collect classic cars…coach our kid’s little league team.
We spend our entire lives working for the prospect of some day not working. It’s rather ironic really, a satire that seems to be lost on countless NFLers every year about this time as coaches are canned and aging presences contemplate retirement vs. return.
I don’t have a problem with guys like Andy Reid and Norv Turner and fill-in-the-blank with a dude who should be able to fade away without financial concern for wanting to continue working. I don’t have a problem with a guy like Mike Holmgren throwing himself back into the mix to again take up a team’s reigns. I don’t have a problem with it. I just don’t get it.
Ray Lewis has stated that this is his last hurrah. He will retire following what I predict will be his team’s first-round exit in the post-season. Yet to be determined is the sincerity in Lewis’ remarks – a motivational ploy or a declaration in earnest? We shall see. I hope it is the latter. I hope that he can prove an example (speaking of irony).
I think the toughest hurdle to retirement for professional sports figures is the feeling of identity lost. For those who find that obstacle insurmountable, it’s truly an issue of perspective lost. The job is not merely what they do…it’s who they are…it’s how they define themselves. It’s a not so fine line that lends itself to tragic endings – as simple as the subpar stat line of the athlete who stays one campaign too long - as complex as a marriage lost to the hours and stress, a nonexistent relationship with a child, a suicide.
Like I said, I don’t have a problem with these guys wanting to work. I just don’t get what is so horrible about being home.