03/15/14 by Vanessa Evans
Who doesn't want to retire before they're 30?
That sentiment resonates with plenty of recent college grads en route to their first job or those sitting at 29 and holding, still hoping that their next million dollars is just around the corner.
Not many professions lend themselves to that type of success, the kind that allows you to score millions of dollars within a certain time frame and thus have enough financial freedom to live out your remaining years well before they are considered golden.
That is, unless you're a professional athlete.
Take a look at 26 year old Rashard Mendenhall, the former Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals running back that recently opted to walk away from the bright lights and big contracts of the National Football League in exchange for the peace and tranquility that often arises once the spotlight of professional sports dims.
Mendenhall was set to become a free agent and most likely had plenty of worthwhile suitors for his services, which translates into another long term contract that would have paid him millions. Instead, Mendenhall reasoned that his playing days were over, not because of injury or a lack of interest from other teams but rather his own willingness to walk way on his own terms, even if he wasn't always your favorite player.
Mendenhall wasn't the first NFL football star to say so long to the game that made him a wealthy man, and he certainly won't be the last.
These titans, tough guys and gridiron, court and on field warriors train hard and play even more ferociously in search of that lucrative contract, the one that allows them more often than not to call it quits well before they even have one, lone gray hair.
Granted, those deemed gifted enough to play professional sports obviously are few and far between, and the millions of dollars they earn every year is well deserved, given the amount of physical abuse their bodies take over the course of their careers. Even those professional athletes that opt to play into their 40s are hardly pushing the traditional retirement age of 62. Who wouldn't want to trade in 20 years of not working and actually relishing "retirement" two decades before you're actually supposed to?
The luxury of athletes leaving their respective sport in their 20s, 30s or even 40s is one that is much deserved, given the amount of work and preparation that put them in a position to score big when it comes to financial security and then have the option of exiting at their discretion.
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