Anderson Silva is arguably the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the game today. The 33 year-old UFC Middleweight Champion, know as “The Spider,” owns a record of 24-4 with 13 KO’s. So, yeah, he’s what you’d call a tough guy.
Recently, Silva announced that he plans to retire from MMA competition when he turns 35. Many fans weren’t happy hearing that news, saying it was premature and he’d be walking away in his prime.
So that got me thinking: Who else said goodbye to a sport while they still had gas left in the tank?
SAMUEL “SCREECH” POWERS: It was Oct. 1991 and “Saved by the Bell” episode No. 107. The Bayside Tigers — and the world — had never seen such grace and skill on the chess board. When it came to putting opponents away, Screech showed no mercy.
But just like his best pal Zack Morris did with basketball, lovable hunk A.C. Slater did with wrestling and brainiac Jesse Spano did with her caffeine pill addiction, Screech gave up his best chance at success.
Nowadays, Screech is broke and dabbling in the adult film industry. (Unfortunately, that last part is not a joke.) He should have stuck with working the pawns and rooks. Go Bayside.
THE ROCK: Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Rock was “The Most Electrifying Man in Sports-Entertainment.” The former Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman was quick on the mic and nimble in the ring.
Somewhere between 2003 and 2004, after nine World Championship title reigns and an estimated 6,000 People’s Eyebrows, The Rock left wrestling for acting. He started with action films, then dropped about 200 pounds and began pumping out Disney comedies like the Spears women pop out offspring.
Professional wrestling hasn’t been the same since the People’s Champ left the scene, and die-hard fans are still hoping that someone, anyone, will find a way to fill the void the Rock left when he retired.
MICHAEL JORDAN: If there are any left on earth, I’m sure Knicks fans still remember how MJ lit MSG up every time he rolled through New York. But it was his stint with the Double-A Birmingham Barons baseball squad that got His Airness on this list.
Sure, he stunk (.202 with 3 HR and 114 strikeouts), and he looked kinda goofy in his uniform, but c’mon, it’s Michael Jordan!
Given two or three more years, it’s a guarantee that he would have worked his way to being the second or third worst player on the team.
BARRY SANDERS: Although he never pulled an Al Bundy (the Polk High halfback that scored four touchdowns in one game), Barry Sanders was certainly a force to be reckoned with when he was handed the football.
Greatly considered one of the best running backs in NFL history, it’s widely agreed by everyone except Sanders himself that No. 20 bounced out of the league far too soon.
JOE “COOP” COOPER and DOUG REMER: South Park co-creators Trey Parker (Cooper) and Matt Stone (Remer) starred in 1998’s raunchy comedy, “BASEketball.” The duo were standouts for the Milwaukee Beers in the National BASEketball League (NBL). After a trying season, the Beers pulled it together to win the inaugural Denslow Cup.
Following the Beers’ victory, Coop hooked up with Yasmin Bleeth (prior to her rancid mug shot
) while Remer and former Playmate Victoria Silvstedt became a lot more than BFF. Their departure left the sport of BASEketball to die a slow, painful death prior to the 1999 season.
STEVE LATTIMER: As a middle linebacker for the fictional Division-1 football ESU Timberwolves in 1993’s “The Program,” Lattimer was a monster on the inside. He was big. He was strong. And he had more juice in him than Jose Canseco and Mark McGuire multiplied by Lance Armstrong.
When coach Sam Winters (James Caan) caught Lattimer whacked on roids after his first suspension, Lattimer’s ESU career was through.
With his playing days behind him, it’s rumored that Lattimer joined the nefarious Cobra Kai clan from “The Karate Kid” to take out anyone who dared oppose his face painting skills.
Think I missed someone? Don’t just sit there! Let me know about it: MaxwellJack@live.com