For the upcoming Easter holiday the theme is resurrection, of course. The sports world has seen many athletes and coaches come back from the dead.
Here are 10 of the best examples of such resilience:
Lance Berkman – After the 2010 season Berkman was an aging gimpy-kneed player hoping a team would sign him to a free agent contract after his short stint with the Yankees didn’t go too well. After the 2011 season he was wearing a ring as a key member of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Andre Agassi – Agassi was a former #1 ranked player who had dropped to #141 in October of 1997. From those depths he climbed all the way back to reclaim the #1 spot and win another four Grand Slam tournaments.
John Calipari – During the 1998-99 season Calipari was fired by the New Jersey Nets. He posted an abysmal winning percentage of .391 while coaching in the NBA. In addition, the school he had coached to the Final Four in 1996, UMass, was forced to vacate that accomplishment because its star played had had illegal contact with an agent. Calipari rose from those lows to an eight-year, $32+ million contract with the University of Kentucky. He completed his comeback with a national title this season.
Marv Albert – Albert, the popular NBA and NFL broadcaster, saw his career take a little detour in 1997 when a woman accused him of some rather kinky sexual behavior. He plead guilty to misdemeanor charges and was fired by NBC. He was eventually restored to his position and is again today the top NBA play-by-play man for TNT.
George Foreman – Big George would be awesome just for the George Foreman Grill and for naming all of his kids George. But when he returned to boxing after a 10-year absence and reclaimed the heavyweight title by beating Michael Moorer in 1994 (at age 45, no less), his resurrection was complete.
Bill Belichick – In his five years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Belichick was terrible. He managed just one winning year and one playoff spot in his years in Cleveland. At that time he did not seem like a coaching genius. But this year he coached New England to the fifth AFC Championship in the Belichick era. His three Super Bowl rings put him in the elite ranks of those who have ever coached in the NFL.
Chris Carpenter – When Carpenter joined the Cardinals they didn’t know if he would ever pitch for them. He missed most of 2002 and all of 2003 recovering from injuries. By 2005, he was the NL Cy Young winner, and he is now a Cardinals legend for his postseason work. He has two World Series titles with St. Louis.
Tom Coughlin – Coughlin seems to rise from the dead more than any other coach. In spite of leading Jacksonville to the AFC title game in just the team’s second year, he was fired by the team after the 2002 season. In his time with the Giants, speculation has always been rampant about the chances of his being fired. In February, he led the Giants to a Super Bowl title, his second with the team.
Kim Klijsters – In early 2009, Klijsters was a retired mom caring for her young family. By September she was holding the U.S. Open champion trophy as the first wild-card entrant to ever win the event. She has now won three Grand Slams in her return to tennis.
Tiger Woods – We’ll call this one a work in progress. In November of 2009 Woods backed his car into a tree, beginning the long downward spiral for both his personal and professional lives. His marriage broke up, and he didn’t win an official tournament until last weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. If Woods can win the Masters this week, it will complete a huge act of sports redemption.
Brad Boeker is an avid fan of all sports. He keeps his television tuned to SportsCenter at all times.