This is not an anti-Jeff Gordon article. I am not one of those people that wants Jeff Gordon to go away because he is good. I do not want to see Jeff Gordon retire. But I believe that, for his sake, he should hang it up at the conclusion of this season.
Following a violent crash during Monday’s race at Watkins Glen, Gordon appeared to be in perhaps the worst shape I have ever seen him in. The crash took a toll on his back, which has bothered him since last season. And you could hear it in his words during his post-wreck interview.
“I’m hurting. It’s not what I needed, you know? You take three or four steps forward to this point, and you take a hit like that and take a couple of steps backward.”
Gordon has had several MRIs done on his back since last season, and had treatment performed on it back in May. Even still, Gordon still feels the pain. And it doesn’t go away quickly. Gordon continued,
“My left side and my back are super sore. It’s going to take probably a couple of weeks for it to heal completely.”
Therein lies the problem. Gordon doesn’t have a couple of weeks. He has to be back in the car in exactly 4 days, when the series heads to Michigan International Speedway. And even though Michigan isn’t a difficult track, it’s a high-speed track. And any small error can result in one hard pounding.
Gordon doesn’t need that. He doesn’t need to be putting up with any sort of pain right now, especially in his back. And even though Gordon still has a few good years left in him, as well as a lifetime contract with Hendrick Motorsports, it may be time for the California Kid to hang it up and call it a career.
The back is not something you want to mess up. I’ve seen athletes who play too long with an injury. It usually doesn’t end well for them. And even though Gordon claims nothing is actually wrong with his back(just that it hurts), this is not something Gordon needs to take a chance on. One wrong move can mess it up for good. And at 38, Gordon has far too many years ahead of him yet to have to live with a bad back for the rest of his life.
Gordon’s career is a complete one. He has 82 wins, and 4 championships. And with his back trouble, he is unlikely to improve on those stats much more.
And with his 2 year old baby girl, Ella, at home, he would have a chance to spend more time with her, and his wife, which is something he very badly wants to do.
Gordon claims that he wants to race a few more years so Ella can understand what exactly it is that her dad does. But maybe he doesn’t have to drive to give her the full racing experience. Maybe he could be an owner, or even a part-time driver. Maybe both. Whatever would take a load off his back.
The options are all there for Gordon. He could race a few more years and risk his back. He could call it a career and become an owner. He could be a part-time driver. Or maybe, he could hang it up altogether and leave the racing world behind completely. He would certainly leave as one of the top drivers, instead of a has-been like some drivers have done.
But for his sake, I hope Jeff Gordon hangs it up as a driver after this season. He would certainly leave on a good note, and with a half-decent back.