Going out on Top? A few of these Superbowl stars will need to decide



Retirement is a daunting decision for many people in Professional sports. Walking away from the game can be tough to do for those who are able, while many are forced from it without the chance to choose.

Jason Avant(81) kneels over injured Ellis Hobbs.
Players are often wary of the fate suffered by Ellis Hobbs this season. The Philadelphia Eagles cornerback, 27, is currently contemplating retirement in his prime after a serious neck injury during the season.

Other players choose to leave the game early by choice such as Tiki Barber who retired at 31 or Glen Cofffee, the 23 year old backup runningback in San Francisco who left football after his second season.

As much as most don't like to think about it, if you ask any player or coach how they would like to go out they will all give you the same answer; On Top.

Retiring after a Superbowl victory is an opportunity that isn't afforded to every player/coach in the league. There are a few Packers and Steelers heading into Superbowl XLV that may be tempted by the chance.

Ward's production has waned this season.
All time leader in receptions and receiving yards for the Steelers Hines Ward, is contemplating retirement should the Steelers win the Superbowl. Ward is in his 13th season and told students at North Hills High School at the start of the season that "if I win three Superbowls, I'm retiring."

Ward won his first Superbowl title in 2005, picking up the Superbowl XL MVP title on the way, but the most important thing to Ward was that he won a Superbowl ring for his friend and teammate Jerome Bettis. Bettis is a Hall of Fame nominee this year in his first year of illegibility after retiring on top in his hometown of Detroit.

Ward has obviously learned from this experience and stressed that he didn't want to "be like Old Yeller, when they take you behind the barn and shoot you."

LeBeau with his Hall of Fame bust.
Ward may not be alone should he decide to hang up his '86 jersey. The Steelers' Hall of Fame defensive Coordinator, Dick leBeau, has not committed to coaching the team past this season as he is constantly questioned about retirement. LeBeau is unlike most 73 year olds. He reportedly does 20 pushups a day in front of his defensive unit before practice and still leads the NFL's top ranked defense.

LeBeau said after the team's previous Superbowl victory in 2008 that he was coaching on a year to year basis and his contract expires after this season. Shutting down the Packers offense would be the perfect way for Lebeau's career to come to a close even if Steeler fans will want to prolong it for as long as possible.

The Packers' youthful team does not have many players that could retire after this season but the minority is full of vital cogs. Wide receiver Donald Driver is 35 and playing in his first ever Superbowl, his statistics have tailed off this season however physically can play past this year. Longtime left tackle Chad Clifton is also playing in his first Superbowl and is more likely to retire following the Superbowl as his health has been in decline over the years although his contract runs for two more years. 34 year old Charles Woodson is also close to the point of retirement but continues to play at an All pro level so is highly unlikely to walk away.

Leaving a game that you presumably love enough to the get to the point of becoming a professional is never an appealing thing. However walking away with a smile on your face is the best way to go.

Just ask Brett Favre(Sorry Packer fans, I lasted almost three articles!)

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