By Geoffrey Ciani: After an amazing twenty years in professional football, Jerry Rice has finally decided to call it a career. Having passed the point where he’s capable of performing at a top level, this decision couldn’t have come at a better time. Evander Holyfield should take note..
The similarities between the careers of these magnificent athletes are actually quite astounding. At the peak of their skills, each achieved the highest level of greatness possible in their professions. Rice was the most dominant receiver in football throughout much of the late 80’s until the mid 90’s; likewise, Holyfield was a top contender in the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions during this same time frame. In fact, Holyfield once held the undisputed championship in each of those divisions.
A lot has changed since that time, and now it seems those days are long gone. Neither athlete has been at the top of his game for some years now. Both Rice and Holyfield have been in decline for near a decade, and each has hung around longer than he should have. It’s been three years since Rice has played at a Pro-Bowl caliber-level, and it’s been three years since Evander Holyfield last won a boxing match.
The biggest difference between the two right now seems to be that Rice—at least—had the sense to know when to get out of the game. Not wanting to be reduced to a minor role after such an illustrious career, Rice knew the time to leave was now as opposed to later. Sadly, Holyfield has no such sense. And in boxing, this can be detrimental to his health.
“I never thought I’d ever see this day.” Those were the words of the great Jerry Rice once he realized it was finally over. It’s difficult for someone with the competitive nature of a professional athlete to admit when his time is up.
This is especially true with truly outstanding athletes that have defied the odds time and time again. Father time does eventually catch up with everyone, however–even amazing athletes like Rice and Holyfield, whether or not the “The Real Deal” wants to admit it.
Holyfield is scheduled to move on with his career, and is slated to face 35 year old journeyman, Frank Wood on October 8, in Sardinia, Italy. This is an ill-advised decision on his part. “The Real Deal” is clearly a shot fighter, and has nothing left to offer himself or boxing fans.
His last win was in June of 2002 against Hasim Rahman, and even then it seemed to be somewhat of a fluke. Rahman’s face swelled to gigantic proportions after being on the receiving end of a legendary Holyfield head-butt. Since that time, he has been utterly outclassed by Chris Byrd and Larry “The Legend” Donald, and he was stopped in 9 rounds by former middleweight, James Toney.
This is not the same Holyfield we all love and remember. That version of “The Real Deal” is long gone — much like the version of Jerry Rice who used to swipe passes on quick slant patterns from Joe Montana is long gone, and at long last Rice was able to realize that. Holyfield, who coincidently is just six days younger than Rice, really ought to follow the older man’s lead.
Holyfield, please retire.
This article was also published at East Side Boxing