Posted in Lombardi's Way
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“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” 
“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”
“The grass is always greener on the other side.”
All of these are highly overused yet highly appropriate clichés that fit nearly all walks of life.  Yet often the meaning doesn’t become clear to you on a personal level until it’s too late.
I once worked for a company that I absolutely loved.  During those days, the world wasn’t quite so casual and suits were the expected attire.  I put that suit on in much the same way that Ray Lewis might put on this shoulder pads.  When I knotted that tie, it was the equivalent in my mind of No. 52 buckling his chin strap.
Game on!
I went to work early and stayed late.  I did whatever I could to ensure that I was producing as much as possible and keeping pace with the company’s leaders.  It was more than the money.  It was about pride and competing and playing to win.  My approach was to take on my sales position with the mindset of a player and losing was not an option.
After several very good years with the firm, things began to change.  People began to leave as new management came on board vis-à-vis an acquisition.
Seemingly overnight, our company focus changed as did the markets we served.  The customers that were once our lifeblood we retreated from in search of more lucrative margins that these customers didn’t want to pay.  Who could blame them given what we then offered cost more yet provided less?
Years later the people that once formed the nucleus of this wonderful entity were scattered throughout the country and eventually the acquiring company ran their prized acquisition into the ground when they filed Chapter 11.
Some things are better left alone.
Just this past week while vacationing in Key West, I visited a regular stop of mine – Schooner Wharf Bar.  Schooner’s is what Margaritaville should be.  Unfortunately, Jimmy Buffett decided it would be best to make Key West’s Margaritaville a cookie cutter Ruby Tuesday look-a-like bar ready to be plugged into any shopping mall in Anywhere, USA.
Anyway, at Schooner’s one of the regular entertainers there is a salty dog named Michael McCloud.  As McCloud finished his last set for the afternoon, he mentioned that he would be playing on Greene St. from 9-1 that evening. 
When I stopped in on the Greene Street locale, there were about 8 people in this massive bar that could probably seat 250.  McCloud looked like a Key West tarpon out of water and he even ended the gig early, perhaps frustrated by a rather poor vibe.  He could not recreate the atmosphere he effortlessly fosters at Schooner Wharf Bar and his mojo was busted.
I felt sad to see McCloud pack up.  And for some reason it reminded me of my old employer.  It also reminded me of others who have left jobs or teams or bands to go on to seemingly greener pastures or to leave behind frustrations only to later wish they hadn’t.
You see those clichés do sometimes resonate.  They also remind me of another cliché – the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Immediately what comes to mind is The Beatles. 
While all members of The Fab Four were immensely talented, what they accomplished as a whole could never have been achieved without the help of the others.  As their producer George Martin once said, “They formed a perfect square.”
And then there are the former Ravens who have moved on – particularly the free agent defenders who seldom seem to approach their success in a non-Ravens uniform.
Is it a system thing?  Does it have something to do with coaching?  Is the chemistry just right or are the skill sets of the individual talents so carefully crafted in a way that produces the greatest whole?
Pete Townsend is arguably a more talented guitar player than George Harrison yet for The Beatles, Harrison was a better choice.  Keith Moon is generally regarded as one of the all-time great drummers but Ringo Starr was a better fit for The Beatles.
Could the same be said of Adalius Thomas and the Ravens?  Will he be the same without the versatile “parts” around him in New England? What about Terrell Suggs or even Ray Lewis?  Would they find the same success elsewhere?  Will Rex Ryan duplicate his success on another sideline?  Has Marvin Lewis or Mike Nolan?
Life is always changing and careers journey different paths inspired by an infinite amount of outside pressures, circumstances, opinions and personal ambitions.
Some will look back and miss the good old days.
Some will fret that they left friends and colleagues behind.
Others will realize that it’s not always about the money.
And others may wonder what they may have accomplished had they stayed put and kept the whole in tact.
Be careful what you wish for.
History starts now!

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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