Retirement None Of Media's Business

Exhibit A that it's a slow news day in the NFL: The Sporting News just posted a ridiculous column all-but-demanding that an assortment of football stars "retire'' and "stay retired.'' Exhibit B that it's a slow news day in the NFL: Because two Cowboys names are on the list, we're in the mood to respond.

The Sporting News' feature is called "10-Pack,'' which I suppose requires the author to come up with 10 items, 10 players, to fill the page. The column begins by urging Brett Favre to remain retired and by urging Mercury Morris to do the same. (Mercury Morris? There must be a joke in there that we don't get.) Then come the 10.

The author's list includes one name that makes a lick of sense (veteran Baltimore O-lineman Jonathan Ogden, who has injury problems that have him considering leaving the game). And then come the other nine names, with reasons that ranges from the ridiculous to the. … more ridiculous.

Why should Jason Taylor of the Dolphins retire?

Because, says The Sporting News, he is "kick-starting the show business runs of wannabes'' by appearing on "Dancing With The Stars,'' thus proving that "Taylor is making it known that his passion for football has waned. … Football isn't really a priority for him anymore.

How the author comes to this conclusion regarding a man who was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year just 14 months ago we do not know. In fact, the author is trying to be so fake-macho here that we can't imagine how a tough guy like him is even aware of "Dancing With The Stars.''

The author demands the retirement of the Giants' Michael Strahan, of free-agent QB Byron Leftwich, of Rams tackle Orlando Pace, of Jaguars receiver Matt Jones (who is entering just his fourth NFL season), of free-agent receiver Troy Brown, and – in a shameless trick to lure people to read this tripe – of Bengals receiver Chad Johnson. Why should the controversial Johnson retire?

Writes the author: "In a misguided effort to get out of town, the Bengals' No. 1 wideout has been threatening to retire. Coach Marvin Lewis has called his bluff. Johnson should call Marvin's bluff and pack it in. Not because it's in Johnson's best long-term interests to do so, but because the football-following world is sick of listening to his routine. The only problem is someone would likely hire Johnson to talk about football on television. So maybe it's better if he doesn't retire. Ever.''

What? Again, we don't totally understand the attempt a joke. But we do understand that the concept of Ocho Cinco retiring must be some sort of April Fools Month stunt. Johnson just turned 30. He's good for about 90 catches and nine TDs a year. He does pout, he does spout off, and he does maybe even cause turmoil in his locker room. But he's a perennial Pro Bowler who, if the Bengals decide they've truly tired of his flamboyant act, will have no problem finding a new employer. (Including, by the way, the Cowboys.)

Let's see. That's eight guys. How can the author fill his required "10-Pack'' while also milking some more attention for himself? How else but to target a couple members of "America's Team''? Here's what The Sporting News has to say about incoming vet linebacker Zach Thomas:

"I'm not a neurologist (and have not played one on television or stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night, or ever). The fact that being in a fender-bender caused Thomas to develop post-concussion syndrome tells me he has had his brain box busted a few times too many. …''

And here's what the site has to say about reserve Dallas QB Brad Johnson:

"With Vinny Testaverde finally packing it in, Johnson now is the official over-the-hill quarterback with the arm strength of a Tyrannosaurus. Johnson was dreadful in his final season as a starter with the Minnesota Vikings; if Tony Romo ever gets hurt, the team facing the Cowboys can confidently replace its safeties with nose tackles.''

On the subject of Johnson: When he was first courted by the Cowboys, we said in this space that based on talent, it was a mistake. Having studied every single snap he'd taken in Minnesota the previous season, it was clear to us that Brad's arm was dead. This author pointing that out almost two years later does not represent a revelation.

On the subject of Thomas: Finally, a joke we get! (That Holiday Inn line is popular with sixth-graders who watch too much TV.) But the post-concussion-syndrome thing? We prefer to leave matters like these to people who ARE neurologists. And we're offended when writers pretend to have expertise in issues of this importance. (Can writers pretend they can judge the arm strength of QBs? Sure. Should we pretend that we know anything about "brain boxes''? No sir.)

We can urge the Cowboys to replace Johnson with a more capable backup. We can suggest that Thomas is on his last legs and that the Cowboys are making a mistake to be overly reliant on him. But we have NEVER said or written that a player should give up the fame, the fortune, the passion, and have always believed that after devoting – in the cases of Johnson and Thomas – three decades of their lives to perfecting their craft, they should be able to have a voice in when they voluntarily retire.

The Sporting News column includes this line about these "oughta-be-retirees'': "Shutting up would be optional, but nevertheless appreciated.''

When it comes to look-at-me writers attempting to dictate the future of NFL standouts, we might suggest the author take his own advice.

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