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Year of Goodbye

by Sophia Lipp

Photos courtesy of the Boston Globe

2016 will be the year that sports fans from all over the nation say their final goodbyes to some incredible athletes. This year marks the final seasons for MLB slugger David Ortiz, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and the potential last season of NFL quarterback Peyton Manning.

David Ortiz, otherwise known as Big Papi, has been the face of the Boston Red Sox since his arrival in 2003. As a nine-time All-Star selection, six-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award, three-time World Series Champion and World Series MVP, the back of Papi’s baseball card is full of achievements and impressive statistics. From his clutch singles to walk-off home runs, Papi has become a Boston household name because of more than just his baseball skills.

Papi’s devotion and loyalty to the city of Boston is evident, and not just because he has stuck by the Red Sox for well over a decade. When tragedy struck on April 15th, 2013 at the Boston Marathon, Papi gave an inspirational speech at Fenway Park just days later, thanking and commending the Boston Police and locals for overcoming the horror. “This is our city,” he said, “and nobody is going to dictate our freedom.”

While his retirement certainly brings sadness to all of Boston, Red Sox fans can still look forward to experiencing his last season starting this April.

However, Los Angeles Lakers fans do not have quite as much time. A few weeks into his 2015-2016 season, basketball player Kobe Bryant announced his retirement, and will be ending his final season this April. Kobe Bryant ends his final season as an L.A. athlete through and through, as he spent his two-decade-long career playing on only one team—a rarity in the sports world. With five NBA Championships, seventeen All-Star selections and two Olympic Gold Medals under his belt, Kobe goes down in history as one of the greatest of all time in the NBA world and one of LA’s most beloved and loyal.

Some speculated that his retirement came after a less-than-satisfying performance at the beginning of this season. While Kobe has said that he decided to retire long before the season started and was simply waiting for the right time to make it public, his career will be ending on a low point. This current season, his play has been subpar, with very uncharacteristic statistics compared to his previously successful career. Whether or not this is because age has finally taken its hold on him, or he’s had difficulty playing with a particular young Lakers team this year, his retirement comes at a good time.

While Papi and Kobe fans have been coping with the losses of their favorite players, Broncos and Colts fans have yet to figure out if coping is necessary for them yet. While many have guessed that this will be NFL quarterback Peyton Manning’s last season, he has yet to release a statement confirming that decision or not.

While it is widely agreed that Peyton Manning is a great quarterback and NFL favorite, his last season will be very similar to Kobe’s in that it's ending on a low note. While many would not consider a Super Bowl Championship a low note, it's hard to ignore the rest of the season leading up to that game. After temporarily losing his starting position to backup quarterback Brock Osweiller, another injury to add to his ever growing list and un-Peyton-like statistics (low percentage of passes completed, yards gained and a ton of sacks and interceptions), retirees like Brett Favre are hinting that a retirement may be a good career choice for him.

“I absolutely think Peyton should retire,” said Andrew Waxman (Questrom ’19). “I’m a huge Colts fan and, by definition, a huge Peyton fan, but this was probably the luckiest Super Bowl win I’ve ever seen. He should leave now and end his career on a high, before his age and injuries really take a toll on him.”

With the addition of some recent sexual assault accusations, Peyton has been in the news quite frequently in addition to his retirement speculations. Regardless, Peyton Manning will end his career with two Super Bowl rings from two different NFL teams, a Super Bowl MVP, three ESPY awards and other various records and achievements.

The athletic world bids farewell to some of its favorite and most accomplished athletes in 2016, but their careers will live on with their fans and teammates.

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