Retirements are part of sports. In Major League Lacrosse, they hold two different meanings. The traditional hang it up after a lengthy career is what we know in most professional sports. The other retirement only seen in newer leagues such as the MLL is when a young, emerging star calls it a career while still at the top of their game. We saw that last week when Mike Sawyer of the Charlotte Hounds abruptly retired after the second game of the season after only three seasons. Sawyer had to make the tough choice between pro lacrosse and a full-time career outside of lacrosse.
The reality of professional lacrosse, both indoor and outdoor, is neither are full-time jobs so when a young player like Sawyer has to decide between pro lacrosse and their “day job,” the day job is undefeated. Some players are lucky enough to be college coaches or sponsored athletes that supplement their income so they can play in the league. Many point and say this is because the leagues are small-time. That could not be further from the truth. Major League Lacrosse has been around for a decade and a half. That is still extremely young for a league. In comparison, National Football League players often worked day jobs or offseason jobs just to survive. This was going on well into the 1970’s, more than 40 years after the league started. A friend of mine who played in the NFL was paid $30,000 as a rookie free agent in 1986 showing that even in our generation, pro athletes in the “Big 4” sports where not making the kind of money we assume they always received.
For the Hounds, this is a tough blow to lose Sawyer who was the eighth overall pick in the 2013 MLL Draft. They have a good, young nucleus that was centered around Sawyer and Joey Sankey. The addition of veteran Kevin Crowley and draft picks Dylan Donahue and Ryan Brown had Charlotte set up for success for a long time. With Sawyer, they had the talent to not only make a run at the playoffs, but be a legit title contender. The loss of Sawyer will put a lot of pressure on Brown to take over that position and produce right away.
Week 3 Game Balls
Scott Rodgers, Ohio: Rodgers made five spectacular saves at the end of the fourth quarter and overtime to allow the Machine to win. Each shot would have won the game for Denver.
Marcus Holman, Ohio: Holman had a game high five goals and six points including the game winner in overtime to earn payback from last week’s one-goal loss to Denver.
Matt Gibson, New York: Gibson torched the Launch with five goals leading the Lizards to a lopsided win.
Rochester Rattlers: After a year playing at Brockport College, about 30 minutes west of the city, the Rattlers have moved their home games back to the city. They will play at The Aquinas Institute putting the team closer to their fan base.
Week 3 MLL Top 9
1- Charlotte (2-0) The Hounds offense needs one of the rookies to step in immediately for Sawyer.
2- Chesapeake (2-0) Bayhawks defense surrendering a league best 10.5 goals a game.
3- Ohio (2-1) Machine may have the most balanced offense in the league.
4- New York (2-0) Offense looks great, defense has not.
5- Denver (1-1) Back to back one goal games with Ohio to start the season.
6- Boston (1-1) Shooting a league low .300.
7- Rochester (0-2) Struggling at the X similar to last season.
8- Atlanta (0-2) Kevin Rice needs some help.
9- Florida (0-3) Launch will heat up once the Thompson’s get there.
Brendan McDaniels is a color analyst for the MLL Television broadcasts. Follow Brendan on Twitter @McDanielsSports.