A couple of big news stories are hitting today in the world of professional sports. For Chicago Bears fans, the biggest news of the day is that Brian Urlacher is officially a free agent. That's potentially 13 years down the drain -- we'll see what happens in terms of offers from other teams, but it looks like number 54 isn't going to be on a blue-and-orange jersey anymore.
Another big sports item today: Manny Ramirez has signed with the EDA Rhinos of Taiwan. I know what you're thinking, and contrary to what you may have been thinking, Manny Ramirez is indeed still alive.
These stories are relevant, because just like any of the rest of us, these two men are now faced with career decisions. Just like any of us, they're in the position of having to take some kind of career action whether they wanted to or not. It's not too different from a scenario like this:
Five-time winner of the Leslie K. Gruenwald Trophy for Administrative Excellence, and perennial selection for the Major League Support Staff All-Star Match Baden Teebor sipped his coffee and waited. Across the table, Baden's manager, Nutty Taylor, sucked his teeth and pretended to review the new contract addendum sitting in front of him. Situations were tenuous; Baden's contract was up, but the Canton Finance and Legal team was stacked with fresh talent and promising prospects--and he wasn't as spry as he used to be. Much conjecture had taken place among all the analysts that even without the great Baden Teebor, Canton Finance and Legal had the MLSS Championship directly in their grasp this year. Nutty looked at the paperwork, then back at Baden, then pushed the sheets back across the table. "I think we're unable to come to terms, Baden baby. I'm sorry, but it doesn't look like your future's with us."
Professional athletes, despite the difference in pay, face the same challenges we all do. They're not always 100% control of their career paths. Management has a lot of say in what direction those careers take. And sometimes, a point is reached where choices have to be made. When you're in that situation, you have the choice, regardless of how dire things may look, to either take back control of your career, or let management keep making decisions for you. And I think that's why I like the Manny Ramirez story so much. He screwed up his own career with drug abuse, and then eventually management just filtered him out of the game. He's now made a choice to continue playing baseball, and has found a non-traditional way of doing that when traditional means didn't present themselves. I like that, a lot. And you should, too. Even if he's not exactly someone to look up to, he's taking steps to follow a path of his own choosing. Which is what everyone should do.