I believe loyalty is one of the most important traits an individual can possess.
I’m sure a lot of professional athletes would rather play their entire career for just one team if they could. Pro sports is a business and sometimes it’s out of the athlete’s control on what team they play for.
However, I’ve witnessed some athletes demand a trade for either: money, a better contract, more playing time or to chase a championship ring.
Listed are two dozen Hall of Fame athletes representing football, baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer. Can you name how many of these legends played their entire professional career for just one team?
Marshall Faulk, Brett Favre, Joe Montana, Randy Moss, Joe Namath, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Johnny Unitas, Rod Carew, Ken Griffey Jr., Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Ozzie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlin, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and David Beckham.
The answer? Zero.
Playing for just one team is ok, but I believe it is extra special for an athlete to play their entire career for just one team/city.
Ernie Banks played all 19 years of his Major League baseball career for the Chicago Cubs. They honored him by retiring his jersey #14 and nicknaming him Mr. Cub. Tony Gwynn played all 20 years of his Major League baseball career for the San Diego Padres. They honored him by retiring his #19 and nicknaming him Mr. Padre.
Our two Anamosa Blue Raider/Iowa Hawkeye All-Pro AFL and BFL World Champion and Super Bowl Champion legends Donnie Norton and Marshal Yanda played their entire professional careers for just one team.
Donnie played for the San Diego Chargers and Marshal for the Baltimore Ravens.
Anamosa honored both of these legends by retiring their Blue Raider football jersey numbers, Donnie #22 and Marshal #77.
I saw Donnie in the mid-1990s attend a home Blue Raider football game. He walked right by me while I was standing along the fence where his marble plaque is now located. There is a quote engraved into his plaque that states “I love athletics like I never loved anything else. I hope people are as proud of me as I am to have represented them.”
I witnessed Marshal playing football in seventh grade at Downing Field all the way to the NFL when I, my son Nathan and a friend saw him play in person against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
The only other NFL game I ever saw in person was when I saw Walter Payton play in Irving, Texas when his Chicago Bears took on the Dallas Cowboys in 1979.
I held Marshal’s Super Bowl ring when we honored him at the high school by naming the weight room after him and retiring his #77. I’ll never forget that, just like I’ll never forget seeing Donnie Norton and Walter Payton.