Three of the best to ever play their respective sports decided to hang ’em up this year. Peyton Manning went out on top after winning a Super Bowl, Kobe Bryant retired after having the most Kobe game of all-time, and Abby Wambach called it a career after winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup. All three had appropriate endings to their careers, and at the 2016 ESPY Awards, Justin Timberlake paid homage these legends one last time before giving all of them the Icon Award.
After a video package of the three athletes from earlier in their careers, Timberlake came out and introduced a second video package that included Wambach’s legendary goal against Brazil in the 2011 Women’s World Cup, Manning doing amazing things throughout his career, and Bryant’s 81-point game, among other highlights.
The segment ended with the final chapters for all three, namely their final games, which ended with championships and stellar performances. Those final chapters embodied greatness, and in their respective sports over the last 20ish years, few (if any) athletes have represented greatness as much as Manning, Wambach, and Bryant.
It’s still weird to think that all three of these athletes won’t play professionally anymore. All three are legends in their respective fields due to their mix of success and longevity. So while we won’t see Wambach and Bryant tear it up at the Olympics this summer, and while we won’t watch Manning carve up opposing defenses during this upcoming NFL season, it was great to see them get one final moment where we can celebrate their careers.