Battle of the Olds: Which Veteran Athlete Will Retire First?

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Tom Brady contests that he will not go quietly into the night. The New England Patriots star quarterback clearly believes that age truly is just a number, confirming yet again recently that he plans to play up to five more seasons in the NFL.

Now 41, it’s quite possible that decision will be made for Brady in the not too distant future.

With each passing snap in such a brutal sport, Brady could be inching closer to the end of his career. A brilliant one, to be sure, but one that still has an end.

If it’s up to Brady, he’ll keep trucking on for a while yet. However, not everyone gets to decide how long they’re relevant in sports, let alone how long professional teams feel good about the idea of paying them money.

Betting on Retirement

Needless to say, every single year brings on retirement talk for even some of the best players.

Age, regression, money, and franchises looking to rebuild with youth movements are a number of reasons why older players that can still get it done decide to leave the game behind.

Manu Ginobili was another casualty of age and decline this past summer, and before long, another star name will join him. While it’ll be tough to see any veterans go, is at least doing us a solid by potentially offering us a parting gift of cash.

Should you somehow gauge correctly which aging athlete will retire first, you could win big.

Here are each player’s respective odds to call it a career and a breakdown of why you should or shouldn’t back them.

Vinsanity has always been fun to watch. Whether it be his coined highlight reel dunks or clutch three-pointers, Carter has always been a gamer and a fan favorite.

Carter has remained useful even at age 41, as he is a nice mentor and a guy fans like to come watch before the games. He shouldn’t see much court time with the Atlanta Hawks this season, though, one he suggests he’s 90% sure will be his last.

That makes Carter the favorite to retire first, and it’d make sense.

He’s suggested he’s not into “chasing rings” and is only playing to help younger players and because he loves the game. He’ll be 42 before the 2018-19 NBA season comes to an end, however, and that may very well cap a brilliant career.

Kickers can last for as long as they want, really. The NFL has seen plenty of kickers play deep into their 40s, while the 43-year-old Dawson remains accurate with enough leg to keep a starting gig.

Dawson just latched back on with the Arizona Cardinals after nailing 10 of 13 last year between 40-49 yards, as well as 4 of 5 from 50+. He dipped in accuracy in 2017 but still has the leg and experience NFL teams crave.

Assuming he wants to keep playing in 2018, I’d be shocked if Dawson called it quits.

Ditto for Vinatieri, who doesn’t look his age at all and at 45 continues to be one of the league’s best kickers. Vinatieri remains extremely accurate and also still has the leg (12 field goal makes from 50+ over the last two years) to match with just about anyone.

The Colts don’t seem to be eager to move on from their geriatric specialist, and why should they? Vinatieri converts kicks at a high rate and still has a passion to do great things.

The aging Vinatieri undoubtedly has two things on the mind: kicking records and more big moments in the playoffs. He also could secretly be trying to play until he’s 50, which would be a huge feat by itself.

Vinatieri certainly is old enough to consider walking away, but he doesn’t have any plans to do so anytime soon.

As tempting as these first few options are, I’d say your betting process may really start here with Beltre.

Not only is the 39-year-old slugger nearing the end of the line, but the MLB season ends before the NBA’s or NFL’s. Should Beltre decide to hang ’em up following his 2018 season with the Texas Rangers, he’d be well ahead of Carter or the two NFL kickers we touched on in terms of his retirement thoughts.

Beltre remains an effective hitter for the Rangers, but he hits free agency this offseason and will turn 40 before the 2019 season rolls around.

It’s unclear if Texas will even want Beltre back, but there is no denying that he can still swing the stick.

It’s been reported that Beltre has already been mulling retirement before, however, so he has to be one of your first choices when looking at this wager.

Beltre’s teammate Colon is notorious for appearing to be out of shape and just slinging balls over home plate. Colon actually can be an effective pitcher at times and is a bit of a marvel at age 45, but he’s usually a league average pitcher, at best.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for him in the majors in 2019, but Colon gives up a lot of contact, and his past struggles nearly led him to calling it quits just last season. He enjoyed a mild revival of sorts, but he has struggled mightily at times in 2018.

Turning 46 next May and about to hit free agency, it’s quite possible Colon doesn’t garner the interest he hopes. Considering his rough 2018 run and his age, however, he may just opt to pull the plug on his playing days himself.

After all, he already did what he set out to do.

Nobody can deny the end is near for Dirk Nowitzki. While still effective as a shooter from long range, Nowitzki is a shell of his former self when you consider his overall scoring ability, defensive impact, and general athleticism.

That’s to be expected for a 40-year-old 7-footer, but Nowitzki does not move as well as he once did and has dealt with some injuries over the past few years.

The good news is that Nowitzki can still help out the rebuilding Mavericks, and team owner Mark Cuban will probably keep him around for as long as he wants to play.

Nowitzki has already hinted that this could be his last season, but has kept the door open for the 2019-20 season.

This is an awesome price for a guy who is very close to the end.

Nobody wants to see such a great player go, but Nowitzki’s role with the Mavs continues to shrink. If he struggles or can’t stay healthy, this could very well be his last season in the NBA.

We’ve covered football, baseball, and basketball, so why not hockey?

San Jose Sharks star center Joe Thornton is another guy nearing the end, but hockey is known for keeping around some greybeards, and at 39, it’s arguable Thornton could stick around a while yet.

Thornton is still a great offensive player and a fan favorite for the Sharks, but his knees have been deteriorating. While he’s expected to be at full strength for the 2018-19 NHL season, it’s anyone’s guess if this will indeed be his final season on the ice.

Due to scheduling, I’d probably put Thornton just behind Colon, as an in-season retirement isn’t the greatest bet.

Another NHL player that could be ready to call it quits is Toronto’s Patrick Marleau, but that’s really just based on his age (39).

Marleau exited San Jose after years with the Sharks, but he may be looking to finish his career on a high note after latching on with the Maple Leafs with a three-year deal.

That doesn’t mean he has to finish out that contract, while Toronto could always trade him and force him to reconsider his future. The price is fantastic for an aging player with diminishing skills, but I’m not sure Marleau is closer to retirement than anyone else on this list.

Chara is another star hockey player that is proving age is just a number. The Boston Bruins star defenseman suggested last year that he wants to stay in Boston and isn’t even thinking of retirement.

The fact that he sought an extension says it all for me, while hockey players often play well past 40. Provided he can continue to return value, Chara is a fun flier bet but probably not a lock.

I think Luongo is the perfect player to cap this retirement odds breakdown, seeing as he probably will call it a career the second he gets the Florida Panthers a title.

Luongo talked with the media last year about Florida’s upside but lamented that he could be gone by the time the franchise realizes its potential.

He did say that window was beyond the “next couple” of years, however, so if you’re betting on an athlete retiring in 2018 or early 2019, I don’t think he’s an option.


Timing is everything in sports, and that can probably be said for retirement as well. Usually players will call it quits by informing the media that their upcoming season will be their last, or they will retire shortly after their season is up.

That can come quickly or be drawn out. Peyton Manning didn’t wait that long after winning his second Super Bowl, while everyone knows about the back-and-forth drama with Brett Favre.

Random retirements during the middle of the year aren’t completely unheard of, but typically you can try to wager on this prop bet based on the athlete’s sport and its schedule.

I think that leads to a clear pick here, but every single one of these players is racing toward the end of their career at ramming speed. They’re all in play, but ultimately, I’m going with Colon.

Texas teammate Adrian Beltre is also an option, but of the two, he’s been the far more effective player. If the Rangers won’t pay Beltre to return, I think some other club will at least consider doing so.

Baseball teams can always use an innings-eater like Colon on the mound, but at 45, he’s definitely closer to the end than arguably anyone else on this list.

I’d probably go with Vinsanity ahead of anyone if the NBA season didn’t end next summer. It does, however, while Colon could call it quits as soon as October.


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