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Woody: Martin and Favre Make Time Stand Still

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 21 2010
Mark Martin and Brett Favre are old for being professional athletes, but they sure aren't in anybody's way. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

Mark Martin and Brett Favre are old for being professional athletes, but they sure aren't in anybody's way. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

Good thing Mark Martin and Brett Favre didn’t listen to us sports writers.

About this time a year ago Martin was planning a return to full-time racing after a two-year hiatus and shortly afterwards Favre announced plans to suit up with the Vikings.

Some of us thought it was a bad idea on both counts – that Mark and Brett were two old to cut the sports mustard, a couple old dudes trying to play a young man’s game.

We’ve seen others try to hang on too long and embarrass themselves by refusing to act their age.

So what happened? Martin at age 50 won five races and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the championship standings.

Favre, who at 40 is the oldest quarterback to start an NFL playoff game, has led the Vikings to Sunday’s NFC Championship Game while compiling the highest QB rating of his spectacular career.

What two stirring stories by two proud veterans.

Favre hasn’t disclosed his plans for the future after this season. If he wins the Super Bowl, would that be a perfect time to hang up his helmet? Or would such a super season tempt him to keep going?

I remember what Richard Petty said about athletes retiring: “When we’re on top we’re having too much fun to quit, and when we’re on the bottom we don’t want to go out like that so we hang around for one more year …”

Martin has already announced plans to run at least two more full Sprint Cup seasons after last year’s rejuvenating dip in Hendrick Motorsports’ Fountain of Youth.

Mark said last year was one of the most enjoyable and satisfying of his career, and he came tantalizing close to capturing that elusive first championship. Only Johnson’s unstoppable, record-busting charge to a fourth championship dampened Martin’s dream season.

If he could come so close last year, could he make it all the way this time?

There’s no reason why not. Mark just turned 51 and Harry Gant was still winning Cup races at age 52. Bobby Allison and Lee Petty were NASCAR’s oldest champions at 45, both still competitive when their careers were halted by crashes. 
Allison and Petty were sidelined by injury, not old age, and Martin – fitness freak that he is – enjoys excellent health. He’s the Energizer Bunny of racing – he goes on, and on, and on …

If Brett Favre should lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl title it would be one of the greatest stories in sports. It would be matched only by Mark Martin charging to this season’s NASCAR championship.

Regardless of how either quest turns out, it’s fun to see them kick up their heels.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 21 2010
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