Brett Favre started the recent transformation. Too old, some said. Washed up, they added. And all he did was have arguably the best season of his entire career while turning 40 right in the middle of it.
Next came Jim Thome, who will turn 40 later this month. Where's he going to fit into the lineup, people wondered? What's left in the tank? With 13 HRs -- one every 14 at bats this season -- he's showed there is plenty left in his current role.
Then there were two intriguing names. One showed a flicker of interest in lacing up the skates and playing for the Wild. One was probably a pipe dream, but still ... why not? And then, this week, Mike Modano -- already 40 -- joined the Red Wings. And Shaquille O'Neal signed a two-year deal with the Celtics, the second of which will take him past the age of 40.
They would have completed the circle. Four sports. Four players who had a connection here one way or the other -- Favre and Thome as respected enemies for so many seasons, Modano as a former one of us and Shaq as a constant reminder of the Wolves' ultimate lottery misfortune. Better 18 years late than never, right? Well, not for Shaq.
So instead we're left with a semi-circle. It was a nice dream. The other two just don't know what they're missing.