Categories Sports & Betting

Professional Athletes on the Edge of Retirement: Who Goes First?

Retirement announcements in sports are typically sad. San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili retired this past week, and writers everywhere came out with their retrospective pieces on his future Hall of Fame career. Retirement comes sooner for others. Manu Ginobili retired at the age of 41, but David West announced that he was hanging up his sneakers at the age of 38 just a couple of days later.

Injuries sometimes force players to retire sooner than they otherwise would have. However, some still-active players have managed to stay healthy enough to play into their late-30s and early-40s. Professional sports are typically reserved for the young, but there are a few ageless wonders still at it these days. It will be unfortunate whenever they do decide to finally retire, but the time will come for all of them at some point.

BetOnline has odds for which of the following players will be the first to announce their retirement. Take a gander:

  • Vince Carter, NBA +190
  • Bartolo Colon, MLB +300
  • Phil Dawson, NFL +400
  • Adam Vinatieri, NFL +500
  • Dirk Nowitzki, NBA +750
  • Adrian Beltre, MLB +900
  • Joe Thornton, NHL +1400
  • Patrick Marleau, NHL +1400
  • Zdeno Chara, NHL +1600
  • Roberto Luongo, NHL +2000

NHL Player Longevity

There are 4 NHL players represented here, and they happen to carry the longest odds to retire first of all athletes on the list.

Joe Thornton has been around for a long time, but he is still holding out hope of one day lifting a Stanley Cup. The center has spent most of his career to date with the San Jose Sharks. While the Sharks have been routinely near the top of the Western Conference standings during Thornton’s tenure, they have ultimately been unable to reach the top of the mountain thus far. After putting up a respectable 50 points during the 2017-18 campaign, Thornton saw his production decline last season. He contributed 38 points in 47 games.

Thornton signed another one-year deal to return to the Sharks next season. Whether the 2018-19 campaign will be his last remains to be seen.

Thornton’s longtime teammate, Patrick Marleau, holds a number of Sharks records. The soon-to-be 40-year-old spent nearly 20 years in San Jose before moving to the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. Marleau is also searching for his first Stanley Cup, and it seems like he wants to stick around as long as possible in order to try and win one. The Maple Leafs were closer than the Sharks to winning it all last season, but they also came up short.

Roberto Luongo is in the midst of a second stint in net for the Florida Panthers, while Zdeno Chara, 41, is still the captain of the Boston Bruins. Chara won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011, so he is just playing for fun at this point. While Thornton and Marleau are in the twilight of their respective careers, Luongo and Chara are still playing at a fairly high level. As a result, I don’t think either is worth a long shot bet here.

Thornton and Marleau are more appealing options, but they’ve shown a willingness to latch on as long as possible. I’m intrigued for the profit potential, but I’ll pass on all hockey players here.

Kicker Division

Because the physical tolls that come with kicking a football don’t exactly wear people down all that much, the best kickers and punters in the NFL will often stick around well into their 40s. Look no further than Gary Anderson. Anderson, who retired in 2004, was the last remaining NFLer to play for legendary Steelers head coach Chuck Noll. For reference, Noll took the Steelers job in 1969. Anderson played 23 years in the league and retired at the age of 45. Another Andersen, Morton, is the all-time leader in NFL games played (323). He retired just shy of becoming the oldest player to ever play in an NFL game when he was 48.

Adam Vinatieri and Phil Dawson have both been kicking footballs in the NFL since the 1990s. Dawson spent 14 years with the Cleveland Browns after being drafted in 1998, while Vinatieri rose to fame with the New England Patriots during their Super Bowl runs in the early-2000s.

Dawson has since played for the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. He’s still with the Cardinals, and at 43, he’s the second-oldest active NFL player. The oldest? That would be the 45-year-old Vinatieri, who is still the No. 1 placekicker for the Indianapolis Colts. Over the summer, it was reported that Vinatieri is not planning on retiring any time soon. He has 4 Super Bowl titles to his name, which is the most of any kicker ever. He is the second-leading scorer in NFL history (2,487 points), trailing only Morton Andersen (2,544). At the very least, you have to imagine Vinatieri wants to play long enough to have a shot at breaking Andersen’s record.

Dawson is currently 10th on the list with 1,817 points. Because the Browns were so futile for so many years, Dawson wasn’t presented with nearly as many field goal opportunities as Vinatieri has been during successful seasons with the Patriots and Colts. Sebastian Janikowski and Stephen Gostkowski are the only other active players in the top-20 in all-time NFL scoring.

I think Dawson will retire before Vinatieri, but kickers are like cockroaches. They’re just going to keep coming back. Dawson at +400 is fine enough if that’s the bet you like.

Dallas Theme

3 of the players on this list (Adrian Beltre, Dirk Nowitzki, Bartolo Colon) currently ply their craft in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area. Nowitzki has been a Maverick for life, while Beltre and Colon are 2 of the elder statesmen on the Texas Rangers’ roster.

Nowitzki has essentially been on a year-to-year deal with the Mavericks for a while. The Mavs franchise is the only one the German has ever known since being acquired in a draft-day trade with the Milwaukee Bucks back in 1998. Nowitzki is the franchise’s all-time leader in a number of statistical categories, and he led the team to its first and only NBA title in Cinderella fashion back in 2011.

As a result, Dirk can pretty much leave whenever he decides it’s time to hang ’em up. This summer, Nowitzki inked a one-year pact worth $5 million to stay with the team for the upcoming season. It will be his 21st season with the team. While he’s no longer the focal point offensively he was during his heyday, he has largely been able to avoid serious injury, which has added some longevity to his career.

Nowitzki may even come off the bench next season as the team continues to rebuild and get younger. Nowitzki turned 40 this past June, but he still shot better than 40 percent from three-point range last season. His defense and offensive playmaking are nowhere near what they once were, but one thing he can still do is space the floor and provide some veteran leadership. Mark Cuban would never tell Nowitzki to retire, and Dirk has not said definitively that next season will be his last.

Beltre is in a similar spot with the Rangers. While he hasn’t spent his entire career in Arlington, the future Hall 0f Famer has been with the team since 2011 and he said earlier this season that he would like to retire as a Ranger one day. Injuries have robbed him of his Gold Glove abilities at the hot corner, but Beltre still provides a halfway decent bat and he’s the unquestioned leader of the team in the clubhouse.

Like the Mavericks, the Rangers are a bad team right now trying to build itself back up. Beltre reportedly drew some interest on the trade market this year, but he ultimately informed the team that he didn’t want to go anywhere. His trade value is minimal now that he’s 39, and one has to wonder whether his legs will hold up enough. Beltre is just 2 seasons removed from a campaign in which he hit 32 homers and drove in more than 100 runs, so perhaps there’s hope that he still has some magic left in his lumber.

Colon, who debuted for the Cleveland Indians in the late-90s, certainly doesn’t look anything like your standard professional athlete. At 45, he’s now the oldest player in baseball, and he’s in the midst of his first season with the Rangers. He’s nowhere near the fireballing youngster we saw during his early years, but he’s still putting up respectable enough numbers, especially for a pitcher his age.

Colon is more of a novelty act than a reliable big league starter these days, but he’s another guy that seems content with playing until he physically can’t anymore. He’s not a complete gas can on the mound, so one would imagine he’ll keep getting contracts until his skills see a sharp decline. There were rumors that he might have considered retirement last season after being released by the Braves, but he was eventually signed by the Twins and helped Minnesota to an unlikely playoff berth.

Of the 3 players that call the Dallas area home, I think Beltre is the most likely to retire first. He has been relegated to designated hitter duty more often than he’d like this season, and the power numbers have dropped off considerably this season. As of this writing, Beltre has just 7 home runs in 94 games in 2018. At +900 Beltre is my favorite value bet of any option.

Air Canada

Vince Carter started his career with the Toronto Raptors, where he earned the nickname “Air Canada.” He hasn’t been a Raptor since 2005, though, so perhaps the old nickname has expired. Since leaving Toronto, Carter has played for the New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings. This summer, the 41-year-old inked a deal to join the rebuilding Atlanta Hawks.

Carter has never won an NBA title, but based on where he’s signed over the last couple of years it doesn’t sound as though that’s really a priority for him. The Kings and Hawks have been bottom-feeders in recent years. It seems as though Vinsanity is content with serving as a sharpshooting reserve and a veteran mentor for young teams rather than shamelessly chasing rings.

He’s still somewhat effective. Carter connected on nearly 35 percent of his looks from long range last season, so he can at least hit the long ball with decent regularity. His athleticism has obviously waned considerably from his early days, but he’s another guy that has been able to stay healthy.

Of the two NBAers on the list, I think Nowitzki is more likely to be the first to retire. So, as much as it pains me, I prefer Dirk at +750 to Carter at +190 here.

I’ll rank all of the candidates for retirement as follows:

  1. Adrian Beltre, MLB +900
  2. Dirk Nowitzki, NBA +750
  3. Phil Dawson, NFL +400
  4. Bartolo Colon, MLB +300
  5. Vince Carter, NBA +190
  6. Adam Vinatieri, NFL +500
  7. Joe Thornton, NHL +1400
  8. Patrick Marleau, NHL +1400
  9. Roberto Luongo, NHL +2000
  10. Zdeno Chara, NHL +1600
Taylor Smith :Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.