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September 8, 2008

Let the Legend Live

I love you Lance, but this time I hope you just give up. In my mind you're the greatest cyclist ever born, and I want it to stay that way.Please don't come out of retirement.

The list of people who have unretired doesn't offer you much hope:

Michale Jordan couldn't do it.
Roger Clemens couldn't do it.
Brett Favre ... well, I guess we'll find out how well he does soon enough.

The point is you've seen enough athletes come out of retirement to know that the majority fall on their faces. Fans often remember these player's failed attempts at renewed stardom just as well as they do their previous successes. Michael Jordan left the NBA in a perfect snapshot; an all-star whose game-winning shot won his team the NBA Finals. But a couple of years later he returned and looked like a third-world player scoring a few points here and there for a non-playoff caliber team. Do you think he doesn't regret ending his career that way? If you come back, you'll be in danger of doing the same thing.

You're nearly thirty-seven years old; until you came along nobody over the age of thirty had ever won the Tour de France. You know the odds are against you, right? (Not that you haven't heard that before) Yeah, the odds were against you surviving cancer. And sure, the odds were against you winning the Tour de France. And I suppose it's true that the odds were against you winning the Tour de France seven times in a row. So maybe I'm wrong in telling you to quit because if anyone could pull off a successful return from retirement, I figure you'd be the one to do it.

Yet what good would winning another Tour de France do you? You've already inspired millions and made millions; what more do you need? An entire nation views you as a hero. Cancer victims love you. Cyclists love you. Everyone who hates the French loves you. So why would you potentially embarrass yourself by participating in races you very well could lose? You left the sport as the most decorated cyclist to ever pedal. You won the Tour de France seven times in a row. Don't kill that legacy by coming back and performing at a lower level than you did before.

The legacy of which I speak has impressed me ever since 2001 when my older brother told me that a guy with one testicle was trashing the best cyclists the world had to offer. He showed me this picture (right) of you giving Jan Ullrich the "Is that the best you've got" look after flying past him in your third tour victory. I've been enthralled by your performance on the bike ever since that day. I bought a Livestrong band. I memorized the names of the postal squad. I even once attempted to bike up the hills of Bountiful.

You won your record-setting seventh tour while I toiled away in a religious redirection center known as the MTC. It wasn't easy for me to sit in a 144 square foot classroom, studying in 90 degree heat for 9 hours of the day. You inspired me during that time.I knew that if you could sit on a 15 square inch seat, biking in 90 degree heat for 9 hours a day, then I could survive my torments.

For that and many other reasons, you've been a hero to me. I haven't been affected by cancer, I'll admit I'm not much of a cyclist, and I'm pretty impartial when it comes to the French, but you're a hero to me none the less. And that's the way I want it to stay.

Please don't come back, Lance.
By letting your career die, you'll allow your legend to live.

1 comment:

  1. First off, I haven't read your new blog yet. Perhaps it will desereve a 2nd comment. We'll see.

    I saw the predictions for week 2, and I definately bolded and underlined predictions below where I expressed "hatred" toward the NFL...