Lebron James has opted out of his contract with the NBA’s Miami Heat. After all of his bold predictions, it kind of feels like the big three there came up short. After all the hype, the Heat did win championships but did not compare to their target, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. In the end Lebron is currently considered the best of his time in his sport and many see him as one of the greatest ever, no matter what he achieves going forward. The biggest question about him will likely be his loyalty. That is one question athletes should not have to answer. Professional sports are cruel and rarely does anyone finish their careers with the teams they started with. Going for the money and the championships is every player’s right thanks to free agency.
In the NFL, even the greatest of players rarely finish their careers with who they made their legacy with. Barry Sanders is a rare athlete that played at the highest of levels and played his entire career with one team. His teammate Herman Moore did not have that privilege as he was forced to finish his career in a dismal fashion in New York. Not even the great Jerry Rice finished with the San Francisco 49ers, though he did have initial success with the Oakland Raiders before fading out in Seattle.
Some players that did finish their careers in one place include Walter Payton, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino and Ray Lewis. The list of who had to move on though is staggering as many people forget that Joe Montana went to the Kansas City Chiefs and the more recent move of Peyton Manning from the Indianapolis Colts to Denver would have seemed impossible just a few years ago, but it happened.
There are still a few who are likely to never play for more than one franchise. The top of that list is probably Tom Brady. Brady is still one of the best at quarterback and you could make an argument that he is the best ever. That being said, if Brady were to get injured again, it’s not like Bill Belichick is just going to stop winning before he’s ready to and he wouldn’t likely hesitate to move on from Brady if necessary.
Baseball also has had it’s share of players with a one team legacy, and the recent passing of the San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn should be acknowledged here. The Detroit Tigers hold in the highest of esteem the players who spent their whole careers here as well such as Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and of course hall of famer Al Kaline.
It would be great to see Calvin Johnson start and finish his career in Detroit Lions blue. It’s not likely though and know matter what he does he’ll always be remembered first and foremost as a Lions player, but if he goes, will you feel betrayed the way Cleveland did when Lebron James jumped ship? Sadly, with the Lions history, it will be the only way that Johnson will have a legitimate chance at an NFL title, but can you imagine how cemented his legacy would be here if he led Detroit to a title the way Kaline, Trammell and Whitaker did for the Tigers?