No Repeat

With the “Big Papi farewell tour” officially underway it got me thinking how the most recent farewell tours have ended.

Peyton’s season was his worst statistically and was turbulent at best. Peyton was hurt, benched but rose again to play good then average in the playoffs. He was such a shell of himself, the Broncos basically took the ball out of his hands and let the defense win Super Bowl 50. Nevertheless, Petyon hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in his career, despite his less than stellar contributions. Peyton also had to deal with accusations of performance enhancing drug use and sexual misconduct during his time in college at the University of Tennessee.

Kobe’s goodbye started with him under performing mostly on a very bad Lakers team. In fact, his last two seasons the Lakers had the worst season in both wins and winning percentage in their storied history. With his body deteriorating, Kobe announced on November 29th, 2015 that the 2015-16 season would be his last. Kobe went on to have some memorable game during the year showing glimpses of his former self and dropped 60 in his last game. Although he was cheered at every home and road contest, it was hard to watch at times, but all in all I think basketball fans appreciated the chance to see Kobe one last time and respected that he went out on his own terms.

Likewise, David Ortiz announced before the season began that the 2016 season would be his last. Ortiz, arguably the most clutch athlete in Boston sports history, had a solid 2015 season batting .273, driving in 108 RBI and hitting 37 homers. This season in 16 games, Ortiz is batting .286, has drove in 14 runs, is slugging .589 and has hit 3 home runs.

So which will Papi’s send off be like: Peyton’s or Kobe’s?

Hopefully sports fans will see a mix of what Peyton’s and Kobe’s final seasons look like. A splash of Peyton’s team success with a dash of Kobe’s legendary finish.

Maybe though, Ortiz and add his own ingredient of how a larger than life sports hero is supposed to walk off.

In a perfect sports ending, Ortiz will give fans statistical consistency coupled with flashes of brilliant performances, remain healthy and continue to be the club leader on a competitive/successful team all while appreciating in his career and smiling until his final at-bat.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

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More Legendary than Peyton

With Super Bowl L (L is roman numeral 50) on the horizon, one of the narratives is how Peyton Manning may be able to ride off into the sunset, like his boss, John Elway did.

Manning, at age 39, broke into the league in 1998 with the Colts and the rest is NFL history.

However, there is even an more remarkable story of greatness and longevity in pro sports…it’s called Jaromir Jagr.

Jagr, who is currently 43 (44 in February) has his team in first place in their division and ranks second in points and goals on the Florida Panthers. Jagr has been on an NHL roster since 1990. He will soon compete at the NHL All-Star game once again.

Jagr may be know for his mullet, big smile and his early 90’s Penguins Stanley Cup championship teams. However, his work ethic is should not be overlooked and his late night routine has become legendary.

Just as fans flocked to catch Kobe and Peyton his season, be sure to go see Jagr in person this season before it’s too late.

Then again, he may have several great years left.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

College Coaches Get Recruiting Tip From Kobe

Today started the NBA Free Agency period where players can now talk to prospective teams and find the best deal for them.

With the hiring of Doc Rivers, the Clippers signed Chris Paul with ease and now Dwight Howard stands alone as the most prized free agent.

The Howard saga has been going for quite a few years now, with his on-again off-again two year episode in Orlando and his turbulent year last season as a Los Angeles Laker.

The Rockets, Hawks, Mavericks, Warriors and Lakers are all courting Howard…recruiting Howard that is.

Howard was one of the last players to go to the NBA straight out of high school. This meant that he had no real college recruiting process and now he gets to see what 5-star high school athletes like Andrew Wiggins get to experience.

And teams have not disappointed.

The Rockets brought in Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler to personally meet with Howard, while Dikembe Mutombo sent a video recording and Yao Ming talked with Howard via Skype.

The Lakers, in a desperate attempt to retain Howard, even put up billboards around the city with the #StayD12 plastered on it. Despite their efforts, the Lakers are said to be an “unlikely” destination for Howard.

With all of this swooning and stroking of Howard’s ego going on, Kobe Bryant took a different approach. Bryant, who had his conflicts with Howard this past season, will be one of the representatives to meet with Howard tomorrow.

However, Bryant will not be begging Howard to stay.

In fact, according to recent comments that the the future Hall of Famer made, Bryant insisted that “It has to be his (Howard’s) decision. The last thing you want to do is convince a person that they want to be here. If you have to convince them, when challenges or adversity comes up next season, it’s very easy to say, ‘Well, they had to convince me to be here anyway. I don’t really want to be here. I’d rather be [somewhere else], but they sold me on it.’ “You want it to be his decision. When it’s something that’s rooted inside of him, it’s something he champions. I just want to be there to assist his decision.”

This is refreshing to hear.

Amongst all of his crew telling him how great he is and all of the teams vying for his services, it is nice to hear Kobe using good common sense.

College coaches should heed this warning from Kobe.

Of course you want to sell the benefits of your school and show each recruit how they would fit in your program. However, when it is at the risk of forcing the players decision that is a recipe for disaster, for them and your program.

The final choice has to be the players, be it in the NBA or college.

Make your best pitch for your school, but don’t plead. Let them know how important they could be if they choose to join your program, but don’t beg.

You have to communicate, but you shouldn’t have to convince.

The recruiting process should be about developing a relationship that enhances how great a fit is for the recruit both academically and athletically.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case which is why so many student-athletes end up transferring.

College coaches must be sure that recruits are told what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. Instead, the recruiting process should be  about transparency, honesty and vision.

I am sure Coach Kobe will communicate these to Howard, but it has to be Howard’s decision….Lakers, good luck!

(you will need it)…

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo