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Michael Lombardi Headshot

Should He Stay or Go?

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Oftentimes in sports, entertainment or politics our "favorites" seem to stay too long -- they "over stay" and our last memory insufficient, almost diluting their entire career achievements and destroying our ability to tell tales. I call this my "Marilyn Monroe" syndrome.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell were the beauty queens of their time. Ask any man on the street in the 40's or 50's who he thought was the "perfect woman" and some of the time Marilyn might get a vote and others Jane would get votes. But then something happens that changed the voting and the perception forever -- poor Marilyn died. And suddenly her natural beauty is forever encased in our minds; meanwhile poor Jane kept working, kept aging and kept up with her career.

Time elapsed, and Marilyn Monroe was voted the number one sex symbol of this generation and poor Jane Russell did not receive a single vote. How is that possible? Death, or leaving the game on top, is the only possible answer. Back in their day, they were neck in neck in terms of beauty, popularity and grace, but since Jane has not aged as well and the last memory of beautiful Marilyn we all shared is from a photo of her dress being lifted on a New York City street, showing her great legs and even better smile--- it became a no contest. Today on EBay, there are 7303 items dedicated to Marilyn, ranging from her kitchenware, to handbags. Jane Russell on the other hand has 243 -- all her old movies. Leaving too soon is clearly never too bad.

This leads us too many Green Bay Packer fans favorite Packer of all time; quarterback Brett Favre. Brett announced his retirement this past March after having what I thought was his best season in the past five years. Consider that 2007, he had his best season in terms of average per attempt passing, his best percentage of completion, his third best season in terms of yards passing, his least amount of interceptions since 2001 and lead his team to the Conference Championship game. Favre did all of this done at the tender age of 38 years old. So why retire? Why leave the game he loves so much after posting incredible numbers and feeling young again?

This is not the old story where an aging and injured famous quarterback leaves the city where his fame and fortune were achieved and heads west greatly upsetting the fans at their local management. NFL legend and Hall of Fame player, Johnny Unitas left Baltimore at the age of 39 broken down and only being able to play in five games the previous year for the Colts. Then he heads off to San Diego and plays in just eight for the Chargers, where his career finally ended. Joe "Broadway" Namath left the New York Jets for the bright lights of Hollywood and the Los Angeles Rams where the previous year, he started 8 games for the Jets. His stay in the City of Angels lasted only 4 games and his career was over at 34.

Favre's play in 2007 does not resemble the play of the aging Unitas, or the barely moving Namath. His play last year was just short of spectacular and his body remains free from injury, which destroyed both Unitas and Namath. So, leaving now would preserve his career in a splendid portrait of a winner, a Hall of Famer, an exemplary example for knowing when to say "enough". But because of the season he shared last year, he could tempt fate and try to resume his career. He could try to believe that his body is not aging, that mother time will never catch up with his powerful arm and his unique talents. This making all of Wisconsin and every Packer fan the happiest.

When I watched Favre play in 2007, I thought, 'he has come back.' But when I think of overextending his career, I think go out looking the best -- just like Marilyn. (Clearly, not in the way that ended Marilyn's career, but you get my point).