In the Captain's final year, every pundit and sportscaster under the sun will ponder Jeter's all-time place among Yankees and among shortstops. I've got something far less pertinent to consider: Mickey Mantle was the The Last Boy, and I think Derek Jeter is "The Last Playboy".
Jeter's dating history is well-documented and has contributed to his legend. Who's going to take the torch from him in that regard? A quick look around baseball and the other major sports suggests that no one is up to the task.
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In the MLB, Bryce Harper is a Mormon and Mike Trout has a long-time girlfriend from before when he was Mike Trout. Miguel Cabrera, the reigning MVP? Let's just say he doesn't have the "look". Robinson Cano had ample opportunity as the Yankees' best player to build his dating profile, but all he became known for was being a cheapskate on alimony. Yikes. Then there is Justin Verlander, who for over a year has been linked to Kate Upton. That warrants some genuine excitement, but talk to me when Verlander is through dating his 4th or 5th high-profile celebrity, instead of being stuck on number one. Matt Harvey basically said he wants to be the next Jeter, and he's off to a great start, but knowing the Mets, each of his relationships will be messy, public affairs.
The NBA's biggest stars are all family men, and good for them. LeBron married his longtime girlfriend this past summer, and Kevin Durant is about to do the same. Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade both have high-profile wives in La La and Gabrielle Union, respectively, but they fall under that "one and done" category I mentioned for Verlander. Check out a full list of the NBA W.A.G.'s here.
The NFL is the same deal. Tom Brady is a legitimate comparison, having dated Bridgette Moynihan before marrying Giselle Bundchen. The problem is he had kids with each of them, which is great for Brady but seems a little too involved for Jeter if you ask me. There's a slew of young, exciting quarterbacks yet to enter their prime - I guess time will tell if any of them can walk that fine line of dating celebrities without being over-exposed that Jeter did so masterfully. I would venture to say it won't happen, a theory I'll explain shortly.
In Hockey, The L.A. Kings' Jarret Stoll is dating Erin Andrews. A good start, you might say, but according to her sit down with Bill Simmons, Andrews just moved in with Stoll, something the Captain would have never agreed to.
What I would say to the soccer fans who would throw Cristiano Ronaldo at me is this: it's like a different world over there in Europe, and while his dating history does include celebrities, it's hard to understand how popular a girl is in the same way we understand Mariah Carey or Minka Kelly.
Then there's Johnny Manziel, the Other Number 2. He was certainly the Jeter of College Station, and is already linked to model Lauren Hanley. Every report around the combine is saying how Manziel will need to keep his "playboy reputation" in check, as it could become a distraction for the team. The guy hasn't even played a snap yet! Those are impossible conditions within which to compete with Jeter. As far as we know, the Captain was never told to rein it in, mostly because it was never a distraction in the first place.
The real reason that Manziel, or any future athlete for that matter, will never equal Jeter is simply the age we live in, described by some as "The Twitter Age". Everything is so available for public consumption today. Nothing can happen without TMZ, Busted Coverage, or any other outlet picking it up, and with Twitter, everyone can read what happened within minutes. Even if an athlete happens to date a bunch of celebrities over the course of his career, it will be impossible to do it in the same discreet manner as Jeter. Jeter kind of got out just in time. The pictures and video evidence of Jeter and his various girlfriends was always scarce; it's always just rumor and hearsay, even in the biggest media market. I just can't see that happening for anyone moving forward. This, like most of Jeter's career on the field, was the perfect combination of talent and timing.
Hopefully it doesn't sound gross to discuss the exploits of one athlete. The thing is, it never seemed gross as we were learning about it over the years, or looking back now. That was the beauty of Jeter, and it's why he's The Last Playboy.