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Rangers Sign Brad Richards Part 2
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07-08-2011, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Mahopac, NY
The fact is that no one can predict how an athlete ages: it's a matter of genetics more than anything else.
An interesting article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine a few weeks ago focused on Derek Jeter and aging and the consensus among doctors seems to be that an athlete's peak years are between 26-30.
Obviously, nutrition and workout routines can extend that to some extent, but not totally and not predictably. Strength seems easier to hold onto than quickness and reflexes.
We've all seen elite pitchers lose miles off of their fastballs in the late twenties and early thirties while others retain their velocity well into their thirties (and I don't mean drug enhanced athletes like Clemens).
I think it is a truism around the NFL that few high end running backs remain effective beyond 30, but there are exceptions.
Few elite soccer players remain as productive beyond 30 as they were in the twenties, although some are.
In hockey, for every Joe Sakic, there is Chris Drury. For every Ray Borque, there is Wayne Redden.
It's not a question of effort. It's not a question of dedication to working out and diet (though that certainly helps), it's a question of genetics and each person's internal aging clock.
Certainly, the style of play in the post-lockout NHL is a positive factor, but players continue to get bigger, stronger, and faster while the ice remains the same size. The league also seems to be skewing younger and younger....thus faster and faster. Players who slow down even a tiny bit are more apt to be hit. Certainly the speed of the game is a factor in concussions.
The bottom line is that with BR we can only hope for the best and that he is one of those athletes will can maintain high performance well into his 30s. With all apologies to Eddie O, there is simply no way of telling, predicting, or knowing. Every contract or trade for a 30+ player is a gamble. In BR's case, a gamble worth taking, but a gamble nevertheless.
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