We know it's tough for an athlete, a competitor to call it quits. From the age of perhaps a toddler, they have been groomed, focused to reach the top of their craft. They have been praised as one of the best at what they do and lavished with many enticing things. And then, in their mid-to-late 30s, still in the prime of their actual life, they are told it's over.
Well, for Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress , it isn't completely over. Not yet.
Let's start with T.O., who told the Associated Press last week "No doubt there's not a question that I can still play" at age 40. Owens hasn't played in an NFL regular-season game since 2010, but said he can run a 4.43 40-yard dash and play better than many NFL wideouts. However, Owens acknowledges that a comeback is unlikely, because of his media image.
"But perception, media portrayal is so negative," Owens said. "Anytime there's a rumor that a team is interested in bringing me in, there's all this media attention, and the negative things they have to say are more than the positives. It's not about what I can bring to them. It's about stuff I did 5, 10 years ago."
Burress was a guest on ESPN's Outside The Lines on Tuesday to talk about the arrest of New York Knicks guard Raymond Felton, and his own experiences with getting into trouble with a gun in New York City. At the end of the interview, host Bob Ley asked Burress, 36, if he has any football left in him.
"I believe I do," Burress said. "... I think I may go out and give it one more big push. That's just the competitor in me."
Burress last played for the Steelers in 2012. He caught three passes in four games. Burress' 2013 season was washed out by a season-ending shoulder injury in August. He is currently rehabbing and is a free agent.
Owens comments that it's "disappointing" that players with heavy legal, off-the-field problems -- "domestic violence, players killing players" -- are given second and third chances. While, yes, Owens has never gotten into trouble with the law, he had his chances. There's a reason why he played on five different teams, although he was consistently productive for his entire career.
In his last season, 2010 with the Bengals, Owens caught 72 passes for 963 yards and nine touchdowns. And that was despite missing two games. That will definitely work, even at age 37. Yet, when the Bengals went 4-12 during his only season in Cincy, Owens the blame on other people, as he is wont to do. We saw how it played out in Philadelphia with him versus Donovan McNabb. We saw how it played out in Dallas with him versus Tony Romo. It doesn't matter if he can still play at an NFL-caliber level; no team wants to put up with his inevitable divisive diva act.
Burress looked like molasses in pads in 2012. His final "big push" may all be for naught, but at least he doesn't sound nearly as delusional as T.O.