Again, and Again, and Again…

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2009 at 8:21 am

A 2 year, $25 million deal. This is Brett Favre’s contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Three times, Favre said he was done with the game that he loves; three times he has returned. Many NFL analysts I have listened to are rather split on the Favre situation: some analysts believe that he has the right to do this; that a player, particularly, of his caliber can change his mind as often as there are buyers. Conversely, others agree that Favre needs to call it a day; come back to his Mississippi home to ride in the sunset with his Wranglers and tractor. But what if a public official, let’s say, a mayor of a major city, did what Favre is doing or has done? Would political analysts be split as the sports analysts?

Well, if one would look to Memphis, Tennessee, what you would find is a similar scenario with one Willie Herenton. Herenton was the first elected African American mayor of Memphis in 1991. Growing up very close to Memphis, I remember the campaign and the celebration following his election. For the first time, many Memphians, specifically, within the African American community felt as though they belonged to ONE Memphis. Herenton has an impressive resume, if you will, a Hall of Fame type, as Favre. Herenton was subsequently elected to mayorship some five times. But along the way, Herenton has threatened to retire on a few occasions. Perhaps the most recent time, before he actually retired on July 30, 2009, was in March 2008. Then mayor Herenton announced that he would retire on July 28 to be considered for a position he once held: Superintendent of Memphis city schools. After controversy with his application, Herenton never left the mayor’s office. A year later, mayor Herenton announced in June 2009 that he would leave the mayor’s office on July 10, only to later announce that he would resign effective July 30. All of this to say, that mayor Herenton indeed retired, to the dismay of many, only to pick up petition papers from the Shelby County Election Commission seeking to include his name on the October 2009 special election ballot. If reelected, Herenton would fill the mayor’s seat that was vacated by Herenton himself. Yet, from watching local news outlets, many Memphians are split–some support the former mayor, others, not so much.

Unlike NFL analysts who say that Favre is not harming or costing money, Herenton’s vacancy is leading up to a $1 million special election. Many in Memphis have questioned Herenton’s sanity. Many suggest he has a mental health disorder. Why run for a seat you’ve retired from just weeks earlier? Herenton stated in an interview with local newscaster Joe Birch that he (Herenton) could not allow the Mayor Pro Tem, Myron Lowery, to continue to disregard what is best for Memphians. Though Herenton has not filed the petition papers, the door is open for him to return to office–but there is one other thing one must consider while discussing the Herenton to-retire-not-to-retire debate–he’s also running for Congress. So, he could reclaim the seat he retired from only to leave it some 18 months later.

I wonder how would NFL analysts respond to Herenton. I wonder how would political analysts respond to the Favre situation. Would NFL analysts draw the line and describe the differences between public and private officials and that Herenton is doing the city a great disservice? Would political analysts look at Favre and say that he has the right to change his mind? Frankly, we will not know, but we will know sooner than later if either will be accepted again. For Favre, his acceptance is based on wins. For Herenton, his acceptance will be based on votes. Love or hate either situation, both have commanded theater, presence, chaos, and yes, hope for the future, all over again, and again, and again.


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