At 38 years old, Chipper Jones is at a major crossroads. The notion of retirement has swirled around the Braves' third baseman for for the last few seasons. If you have ears and/or can read, you don't need a refresher on Brett Favre's retirement situation but there is an obvious similarity: aging superstar, one of the very best in the history of his sport at his position, facing a devastating injury and at risk of damaging his certainly Hall of Fame legacy. So why continue to play? Because both of these guys have earned the right to call it quits on their own terms, not the public's.
Chipper Jones is purely one of the best switch-hitters to ever swing a bat. He has taken every single at-bat with the Braves over his 17 year career, winning one World Series (1995) and an MVP Award (1999). Since he broke into the league, Chipper has been a steady producer for a team that has been incredibly successful, often leading the team in most or all major offensive categories. In the last few season, however, Chipper has incurred injuries that have becoming seemingly more and more difficult to recover from. His latest injury is nothing short of catastrophic: a torn ACL. Is Chipper's retirement imminent? Only he knows the answer at this point.
Critics are saying overwhelmingly that Chipper should retire. He may well have already made up his mind on the matter but the simple fact that some are overlooking here is that no one, and I mean no one, should tell Chipper Jones to retire unless that person is him. As someone who is destined to become a true legend of the game, Chipper has earned the right to go out on his own terms, regardless of what others have to say about it. Brett Favre is in the same boat. He gets to retire whenever he declares the time is right, as does Mr. Jones.
Am I saying that Chipper should retire, un-retire, retire, un-retire and then leave us all in limbo while ESPN spends hours a day covering all of the drama? Absolutely not. In fact, Chipper Jones will show the American public how a professional athlete should handle this difficult situation. He will do it with dignity and in a professional, adult manner. Oh yeah, and he'll do it when he's good and ready and not before.