Leading Off

A short list of athletes who might fool Father Time

Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, right, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, left, applaud a speaker during a June 23 news conference to announce Charlotte, N.C., as the site of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game
Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, right, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, left, applaud a speaker during a June 23 news conference to announce Charlotte, N.C., as the site of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game The Associated Press

As much as his fans would have loved to have seen Oscar De La Hoya back in the ring, for just one more fight, the 42-year-old made the right call to stay retired.

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre told Sports Illustrated this week that while he believes he can still play at 45, he doesn’t need family or close friends to tell him to stay retired.

Many retired pro athletes get the itch now and then to return, but most stay retired. There’s a reason they quit, or a reason their team gave them a gold watch.

Still, if there was a short list of retired athletes who might be able to trick Father Time, if only for one moment, it might include these three:

Will Clark: “The Natural” hit a home run in his first big-league at-bat against future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan at the Astrodome in 1986. Now 51 and a special assistant with the Giants, Clark has stayed around the batting cage long enough to still get around on a fastball.

Jerry Rice: The greatest wide receiver to play in the NFL looks as if he’s still in game shape. He reportedly still runs the Bay Area hills he did while playing for the 49ers and setting NFL records for career catches (1,549) and receiving yards (22,895). If you put Rice in a uniform today at 52, and place him at wideout against a younger, quicker defensive back, the Hall of Famer would still have enough know-how to beat his man for a reception.

Even 12 years after retirement, if Michael Jordan were to send out another fax to proclaim “I’m Back,” nobody would consider it a joke.

Michael Jordan: Are you kidding? At 52, Jordan is better than most of the players on the team he owns – the Charlotte Hornets. No doubt, Jordan is much thicker than he was when he last played for the Wizards in 2003, but give him some time to work in the gym and he would be ready to lace up his Nikes. Even 12 years after retirement, if Jordan were to send out another fax to proclaim “I’m Back,” nobody would consider it a joke.

Victor Contreras 916-326-5527, @sacbeevictor

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