The planet is littered with sports stars who did the same thing.
And in this day and age where there is potential for enormous wealth for those at the top, there will be more and more young kids staking it all on a sporting career.
Paine’s reflection turned my thoughts immediately to Latrell Mitchell.
Many, many people can’t believe he’s throwing away the opportunity to play in a great system at a great club under a great coach to chase more money than the reported $800,000 a season he’s been offered by the Roosters.
If life was simple, Mitchell would stay there his whole career and be happy. But life’s not simple.
People critical of Mitchell are assessing him from the “Tim Paine at 34” perspective, not the “Tim Paine at 17” perspective.
Mitchell is 22. He’s got a young child with a second one on the way. He’s got people pulling him in every direction.
At his age, he thinks there’s more out there, somewhere, than what he already knows. Something that can make him happier; something that can improve his life.
One day he may look back on this tumultuous time and regret heavily what he did.
It happens to everyone, let alone young rugby league stars who’ve played Origin, played for Australia and won two premierships.
Latrell Mitchell at 28 would be making a completely different decision, based on completely different factors, than the 22-year-old Latrell Mitchell.
To see what Mitchell is missing, you need look no further than some images that surfaced on social media this week.
There was the Roosters premiership team in Los Angeles, enjoying each other’s company, celebrating back-to-back wins: NFL and NBA matches, beers, fun times and a little bit of training thrown in. Coach Trent Robinson was there; club benefactor Nick Politis was there.
These are the spoils of victory: if you do things the Roosters way, you too can enjoy this.
They were terrific photos: the best of the off-season and certainly better than CCTV and phone pics of players behaving badly.
Juxtapose those images with the one Mitchell posted of himself in the water – alone – on the Great Barrier Reef.
I found it quite sad. Mitchell had as much to do with those two premierships as anyone at the Roosters. He copped some flak for his form this year but, for the most part, he was outstanding. Especially at the SCG where, on some occasions, he was unstoppable.
People have extremely short memories.
This past season, he led the competition for points scored with 273. He was second on the try-scorer’s list with 19.
People judging Mitchell should think about Paine’s words. When we’re older, we wish we’d had that older head when we were younger. But we don’t.
Things are never as simple as they seem. Mitchell seems to be on a search for some peace. He’ll find it with age.
Neil Breen is a sports reporter on the Sydney News Team for 9News Australia