13 Seasons in Sports

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Bryce Harper just inked a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, tying him to the franchise through 2031 (Credit: Sports Illustrated)

It finally happened. It took until the last day of February, but Bryce Harper FINALLY chose the team for his future, picking the Philadelphia Phillies.  In what ultimately looked like a competition between Philly, the San Francisco Giants, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Harper chose the longevity and total dollars that the Phillies were offering.  The bid of the Giants is said to have been at least 12 years and $310 million, while the Dodgers are said to have offered 4 years and $180 million, an absolutely astronomical short-term contract that would have been the highest AAV in MLB history.

Ultimately, 13 years and $330 million, with a no-trade clause and no opt-outs, was the offer the was deemed the best.

That got me thinking: 13 years is a LONG time.  If you know what you’ll be doing for the next 13 years, then congratulations. For the rest of us, 13 years is a lifetime… or a career.

I decided to look at some things in sports that lasted exactly 13 seasons, just to show how long it truly is.  We’ve got some careers, a dynasty, contracts, and the quest for a title.

Here we go.

Joe DiMaggio in New York (1936-1942, 1946-1951)

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Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio played 13 seasons with the New York Yankees, winning 9 World Series titles in that time (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, one of the greatest New York Yankees of all-time, played 13 seasons in the Bronx.  DiMaggio’s career from start to finish spanned 16 years in time, but like most baseball players during this time, he did not play during part of the 1940s in order to serve the United States in World War II.  DiMaggio was a member of the Air Foce during this time.

DiMaggio is famous for his unbreakable record of hitting in 56 consecutive games in 1941.  He hit an absurd .408 during the streak, accumulating 67 hits and 15 home runs. The closest anyone has come to breaking the record since was Pete Rose in 1978, who hit safely in 44 straight games.

DiMaggio ended his career with 2,214 hits and 361 home runs, batting .325 with an OPS of .977.  He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

Boston Celtics’ Dynasty (1956-1969)

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Bill Russell and Red Auerbach did a lot of winning together during their time with the Boston Celtics (Credit: Associated Press)

The first run of dominance for the Boston Celtics, which also happens to be the length of Bill Russell’s entire career, lasted 13 seasons.  From the 1956-1957 season to the 1968-1969 season, the Boston Celtics reached the NBA Finals 12 times, winning 11 championships in the process.  There are six players in NBA history with 8 or more championships, and every single one of them was a member of the Celtics during this era, winning each of their championships in Boston.

Red Auerbach was the head coach of the Celtics for their first 9 NBA titles, but after 1966, he retired, at which point Bill Russell took over the coaching duties, on top of his playing duties.  At this time, Russell became the first black coach in the history of the NBA.  The Celtics went on to win two more championships in three seasons, and after 1969, Russell retired as a player, and stepped down as coach, ending the original dynasty.

It’s okay, it only took the Celtics 5 more seasons until their next championship.

Walter Payton in Chicago (1975-1987)

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Bears legend Walter Payton played each of his 13 seasons in the NFL with the Bears (Credit: ESPN)

Walter Payton is one of the greatest running backs in the history of the NFL  He was a 9-time Pro Bowler, a First-Team All-Pro member 7 times, a Second-Team All-Pro member once, and won the NFL MVP in 1977.  He also won a Super Bowl in his 11th season in Chicago (1985), as the Bears went 15-1, putting together one of the best seasons in the history of professional sports.

Walter Payton retired as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, having ran for 16,726 yards during his career; this record was broken in 2002 by Emmitt Smith (who happened to play 13 seasons in Dallas).  His 125 touchdowns were second all-time at the time of his retirement, one behind Jim Brown.

Payton was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s careers

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The two rivals who helped save the NBA in the 1980s each played 13 seasons with their respective teams (Credit: ESPN)

The faces of the greatest rivalry in the NBA, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, each played 13 seasons with their respective teams.

Bird, a member of the Boston Celtics in 1979-1992, won 3 NBA titles, and was a 3-time NBA MVP.  He became the face of the Big 3, with teammates Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, and was a member of what some consider the greatest team in NBA history, the 1986 Boston Celtics, who went 40-1 at home in the regular season (best in NBA history).

Magic Johnson played with the Lakers in 1979-1991, but was forced to retire due to testing positive with HIV.  He was able to come back and play with the Lakers for part of one more season in 1995-1996 before officially retiring from the NBA.  During his career, he won 5 NBA Championships, and was a 3-time MVP.  He was the face of the Showtime Lakers, centered around Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, as well as Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, and Michael Cooper.

Joe Montana in San Francisco (1979-1992)

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The original greatest QB ever was a member of the 49ers for 13 seasons before being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993 (Credit: George Rose/Getty Images)

Joe Montana, one of the greatest QBs in NFL history, was a member of the San Francisco 49ers for the first 13 seasons of his NFL career.  He became the starter of the 49ers in the middle of the 1980 season, and in 1981 he won the first of what would be 4 Super Bowls with the franchise.  Montana won 2 MVPs during his career, and was the MVP of the Super Bowl 3 times.  As the starter of the 49ers between 1980 and 1990, San Francisco went 117-46, winning 4 Super Bowls, and only missing the playoffs once.

Joe Montana was unable to play in 1991 due to an elbow injury, at which point Steve Young became the starter of the team.  He continued to start in 1992, as Montana’s health was still a question mark.  After Young won the NFL MVP in 1992, leading the 49ers to a 14-2 record, the team decided to officially move on from Montana in the offseason, trading him to the Kansas City Chiefs.  He played two more seasons there before retiring after the 1994 season.

Michael Jordan in Chicago (1984-1993, 1994-1998)

Michael Jordan’s entire career with the Chicago Bulls lasted parts of 13 seasons.  During the first 9 seasons of his career, Michael Jordan became a cultural icon.  He was a 9-time All-Star, 7-time All-NBA First Team member, 1-time All-NBA Second Team member, 7-time scoring champion, 6-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member, Defensive Player of the Year, 3-time NBA Steals leader, and a 3-time NBA Champion.

He shocked the world by retiring after the first Chicago Bulls three-peat, ending what was surely a Hall of Fame career to pursue a career in baseball.  However, in March of 1995, he decided he was done with that pursuit, announcing he was rejoining the Bulls for the remainder of the 1994-1995 season.  His final three full seasons in Chicago led to a 72-10 season in 1995-1996, three more championships, two more MVPs, as well as many of the previously mentioned accolades, cementing himself as the greatest player in the history of the sport.  Jordan averaged 31.5 PPG for his entire career as a Bull.

Jordan came out of retirement in 2001 to play two more seasons with the Washington Wizards, retiring for good after 2003.

Peyton Manning in Indianapolis (1998-2011)

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Peyton Manning’s 13 seasons as the starting QB of the Indianapolis Colts led to some of the best QB play we have ever seen (Credit: Matt Kryger/The Indianapolis Star)

Peyton Manning’s legendary career in Indianapolis lasted 14 seasons, but he did not play in his last year with the Colts due to a neck injury, so for the sake of this discussion, he was the starter of the Colts for 13 seasons.

In that time, Manning won a Super Bowl, 4 MVPs, was First-team All-Pro 5 times, Second-team All-Pro 2 times, a Pro Bowler 11 times, the passing yards leader 2 times, and touchdown passes leader 3 times.  He broke the single season record for most passing touchdowns in a season in 2004 with 49 (later broken by him again in 2013), and when all was said in done, he threw 399 touchdowns during his career in Indy.  The Colts became a perennial playoff contender during Manning’s career, and between 2003 and 2009, the Colts were 89-23, winning one Super Bowl while appearing in another.

After a neck injury forced him to sit out the 2011 season, the Colts, who had the worst record in the NFL that year, decided to rebuild their team, releasing Peyton Manning and picking Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.  Manning played 4 more seasons with Denver, winning one more MVP and Super Bowl before retiring after the 2015 season.

Seasons before LeBron James won a title in Cleveland (2003-2016)

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LeBron James ended a championship drought in the city of Cleveland by winning the Cavs their first NBA title in 2016, his 13th season in the NBA (Credit: USA Today Sports)

LeBron James has had a crazy career.  During his first 7 seasons with the Cavs, LeBron won the MVP twice, and was just entering his prime as he hit free agency in 2010.  Shocking the world, LeBron decided to leave his hometown team, heading to South Beach to join Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.  James had only made the finals once during his first 7 seasons, and did not believe the Cavs gave him the best chance to earn his elusive first title.  In 4 seasons in Miami, James won 2 MVPs, as well as 2 championships.

After 2014, James decided to come back to Cleveland to finish off what he started, trying to win a title with the Cavs.  During this quest, he faced a rival like no other, as the Golden State Warriors rose up to become one of the best teams in the NBA.  In 2015-2016, they won an NBA record 73 games, and having won the title a year prior, they looked set to march through the competition to do so again.  They had a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals over LeBron and the Cavs, but Cleveland staged one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports, coming all the way back to win the championship in 7 games.

In LeBron’s 13th season, he had finally won a title with Cleveland, the signature moment of his entire career.  James played two more seasons with the Cavs before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018.

Alexander Ovechkin’s Contract (2008-2021)

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Alexander Ovechkin signed a 13-year extension with the Washington Capitals in 2008 (Credit: For The Win)

One of the best players of his era, Alexander Ovechkin was locked up early in his career.  At the age of 22, Ovechkin signed a 13 year, $124 million extension with the Washington Capitals, a deal that would keep him in DC through 2021.  In what is still the largest contract in NHL history in terms of overall money, it has honestly been a bargain for the Caps.  Ovechkin has scored 488 goals to date since the first year of his extension, and has solidified himself as one of the greatest scorers in NHL history.

In Year 10 of the contract (his 13th season), Ovechkin got the proverbial monkey off of his back, winning the first Stanley Cup of his career.  Prior to this point, he was one of the greatest players in their respective sports to never win a championship, and before last season, he had never even made the conference finals.  Ovechkin is in Year 11 of his contract, and has 44 goals this season, while his Capitals are second in the Metropolitan Division, set to defend their title in the playoffs.

Giancarlo Stanton’s Contract (2015-2028)

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After the 2014 season, 25-year-old Giancarlo Stanton signed a 13-year, $325 million contract with the Miami Marlins. (Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Bryce Harper is not the first outfielder to sign a 13-year contract.  In fact, over 4 years ago, Giancarlo Stanton signed a similar contract, extending his time as a member of the Miami Marlins another 13 seasons.  Funny thing was that Stanton only played three seasons with the Marlins under that deal. After a 59 home run season in 2017, Stanton and the Marlins decided to part ways, and he was put on the trading block.  In what seemed like a competition between the Giants and Cardinals, and possibly the Dodgers, the Yankees came out of nowhere, and maybe with some help from former legend, and current Marlins owner and CEO Derek Jeter, they were able to land the home run masher, pairing him with their own premier slugger, Aaron Judge.

In his first season with the Yankees, Stanton had 38 home runs and 100 RBIs, but struck out an astronomical 211 times.  The Yankees were not able to replicate their success from the season prior, losing to the Red Sox in the ALDS 3 games to 1.

2019 will be Year 5 of Stanton’s contract, and he can opt-out after next season.

Follow Nick on Twitter (@Nick_Collins14)



Author: Nick Collins

Boston sports fan sharing his love for sports and perspectives as a fan

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