Sports Oldsters

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
 Weirs Times Columnist

All the hoopla surrounding the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady “gunfight” in Denver last Sunday made for some compelling story lines and also touched on two things that most of us seriously ponder—often excessively.
Aging and mortality.
So we celebrated the spectacle of a 39-year-old future Hall-of-Fame quarterback taking on a 38-year-old future Hall-of-Fame quarterback—with a Super Bowl berth at stake.
The aging process brings humility to every athlete, sooner or later. So when someone like Brady cheats both Mother Nature and Father Time—as he did this past season—it not only brings joy to Patriot fans but it also gives us all hope that maybe one CAN stay young forever, in a sports Shangri-La.
Who has never dreamed such dreams? Think of Ponce de Leon’s tragic quest for the mythical “Fountain of Youth,” or Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”
Dorian Gray sold his soul in exchange for eternal youth. Rather than age himself, a picture instead reflected the ravages of time and personal choices. Of course, as with Ponce de Leon, it all ended badly for Dorian Gray.
Still, we rejoice when oldsters triumph. Think Mariano Rivera. Adam Vinitiari. David Oritz. Do you recall Jack Nicklaus winning the Masters Golf Tournament at age 46? Or better yet, Tom Watson falling just a stroke short of a sixth British Open title at the age of 60, in 2009?
How about Ted Williams winning a batting title by hitting .388 at almost 40 years of age? Or Babe Ruth hitting three tape measure home runs in a single game in Pittsburgh, also at age 40? Or Michael Jordan racking up triple doubles at the same age?
And you have to love long distance swimmer Diana Nyad, who at the age of 64 completed a 110 mile swim from Cuba to Florida. It took her 53 hours.
Or Gordie Howe. The NHL legend made his debut with the Detroit Red Wings in 1946. In 1969, the 40-year-old-Howe scored 100 points for Detroit—44 goals and 59 assists. He later played for the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association, winning the WHA’s MVP award in 1974. Later, back in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers, Howe played on a line that included his sons Mark and Marty. Howe concluded his career in 1980, when at age 51 he played in all of the Whalers’ 80 regular season games, scoring 15 goals to help Hartford make the NHL playoffs.
The aforementioned stars—and others like them—created excitement which sports fans converted to passion, an ingredient for eternal youth. Or at least youthful outlooks.
So Tom Brady, whatever you’re doing, please keep it up. Perhaps it’s your supermodel wife that helps keep you young—along with diet and exercise, of course!
But I can’t help but wonder if somewhere there is a “Picture of Tom Brady” that is aging, while Tom stays forever young. Whether or not Tom made some Faustian bargain, only he knows. But if such a picture exists, may it stay under lock and key.
Forever.
Sports Quiz
What was the location of the first-ever Winter Olympics competition in 1924? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on January 28 include San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (1949) and PGA golf standout and three-time Majors champion Nick Price (1957).

Sportsquote
“You see a hockey player on the street and you’d never know he’s a professional athlete. But you put the skates on him, and he becomes a beast.” –Junior Seau

Sportsquiz Answer
Chamonix, France, hosted the first Winter Olympic Games. Interestingly, the Canadian ice hockey team still successfully defended the Gold Medal they’d won at the previous SUMMER Olympics.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management at Plymouth State University and at NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.