By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 05, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Perhaps this is one of the wilder connections that will be made during the overcoverage of Brett Favre's retirement, but bear with me because it really is relevant.

From about 1978 on, I was a huge fan of an English rock band called The Jam. They were huge at home, but only ever found moderate success in the U.S. (the band played once in Wisconsin, at Bunky's in Madison in 1977). When, in 1982, lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter Paul Weller announced via the New Musical Express that he would break up the band, people in my high school actually offered me condolences.

You see, the band was a ban, but it was more than that. It was a defining, uniting experience for a certain borderless community; much like a football team is to a geographic community.

My school friends thought that losing "my band" would be devastating. What they didn't know was that I was thrilled that Weller wanted to go out on top. The band was still riding its wave of success. But he wasn't feeling it anymore and decided it would be a sham to continue. You could say that he still had the skills and the legs to do the job, but mentally, he was tired of The Jam.

For me, this meant that The Jam wouldn't become like The Who and all those other dinosaur rock bands that didn't know when to say,"basta!" and felt more like running jokes than rock and roll. He wouldn't be like a wrinkly, 65-year-old Daltrey singing youth anthems like "My Generation."

When The Clash soldiered on without Mick Jones and Topper Headon (was that even The Clash?), I could take the high road and say, "The Jam didn't do that."

While every band under the sun seems to be bolstering bank balances (theirs, not ours) with overpriced reunion tours -- and even The Clash discussed one, but luckily Paul Simonon has some class --  Weller has demurred. Even his former bandmates have fallen victim, but not good old P.W. He has moved on and has managed to fight the urge for nostalgia.

When you're feeling sad about Brett Favre's retirement, think about all those one-time sports heroes that didn't know when to stop. They played until they stank up the place and tainted their legacies. Or they "retired" only to make a comeback or three, rarely, if ever, contributing much.

Think about the kind of person it takes, the kind of passion for what one does (be it football or rock and roll), the kind of guts it takes, to quit while you're ahead. Could you do it? I'm not sure I could. But I sure do salute anyone that has the will and the fortitude to do it, because it's a pretty great example to set.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.