On Tuesday, Brown announced, via Twitter, that he may end his musical career after the release of “X,” his upcoming LP. And that’s fine. There’s really nothing worse than a performer — or athlete, or politician — who doesn’t know when to call it quits. Thus, HV staffers Max Cea and Chris Guardaro present to you HyperVocal’s Top 10 quitters … OF ALL TIME:
Pope Benedict XVI
As the first man in nearly 600 years to quit the holiest job around, Pope Benedict has practically revolutionized quitting. While the termination of Brown’s singing career means less direct communication with the media, the end of Benedict’s papacy meant less direct communication with God. Benedict, who decided that he should step down due to his old age and health issues, is now retired in a comfy ex-pope estate. Bold move, considering the last Pope to quit was hunted down and killed.
At the midpoint of this millennium’s first decade, Dave Chappelle was arguably the funniest man in the world. He had two wildly successful stand-up specials and had just finished the third season of his hilarious Comedy Central television show, Chappelle’s Show. Then, much to the chagrin of fans of the Niggar family, black white supremacists, and Prince hooping it up, he disappeared. Vanished. Word was that Chappelle had fled to Africa after inking a $50 million deal to renew the show for two more seasons. Then conspiracy theories floated that Chappelle had been forced off the air by a black cabal, which included Oprah and Bill Cosby, because they thought that his humor was denigrating black public perception.
King Edward VIII
King Edward is the only British monarch to quit in the history of the sovereignty and had one of the most noble excuses for quitting: He fell in love with Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American woman who had been divorced twice, making her an unsuitable bride for the King in the eyes of the English. Edward only had the crown for 326 days before choosing love over the crown. After his abdication, he became the Duke of Windsor.
After one of the most beautifully hilarious gaffe-ridden political careers, which included admiration for a prank caller, disapproval of Supreme Court cases that she couldn’t name, and disgust in newspapers and magazines, which she also could not name, Palin stepped down as governor in July 2009. As the subject of ethics investigations, Palin claimed that she might have spent a half-million dollars in legal bills if she had fulfilled her term. She even had the audacity to call sticking through the tough times and remain as governor to be the “quitter’s way out.” In the end, Palin ended up with a job that was, perhaps, more suited to her particular skill set: contributor at Fox News. She got paid a lot for little.
Has there ever been a more titillating tailback than Barry Sanders? Probably not. Sanders found holes in defenses where there were none. His NFL game tapes look like he was battling high schoolers. Why the man with a penchant for making enormous professional football players look silly would call it quits at 31, before showing any signs of decay, remains a mystery to many. But while fans of the NFL — and more specifically the Lions, who have arguably still not recovered from Sanders’ departure — may have loathed his premature retirement, Sanders can still walk, and form complete sentences, which is more than many of his longer-tenured colleagues can say, and others will soon be able to say. Plus, Sanders’ early retirement has added a Koufaxian lore to his legacy.
A whole generation of baseball fans has grown to associate Kruk more as a Baseball Tonight mainstay than as a middling, mulleted first basemen-slash-outfielder. But before Kruk spent his summers analyzing the game, he was playing in it — the chain-smoking Kruk made it 10 years, a minor miracle in itself. Bowing out after a decade in the game was not a big feat for Krukky. Rather, it’s impossible not to admire how he said sayonara. Midway through the 1995 season, in a game against the Orioles, Kruk hit a first inning single and then went home. Like, actually home. Not the base.
Lyndon B. Johnson
From its inception, power and controversy defined LBJ’s roller coaster ride of a presidency. From the Great Society and the progressive social changes that it brought to the war in Vietnam, Johnson may have done more than any president in U.S. history (if you don’t count FDR’s 27 terms). Yet, by the time the 1968 election rolled around, Johnson was likely the most unpopular man in America. With the likelihood of not winning his own party’s nomination — as an incumbent president! — Johnson boldly relinquished his status as the most powerful man in the free world and declined to run for another term. In stepping down, Johnson saved himself from the wrath of a bunch of angry hippies and from hair-graying attempts at ending an endless war.
Ah, crap, this is boring. So, in the spirit of Chris Brown’s early exit from music, we quit! You’ll have to imagine who the last three incredible quitters were and how we would have used wit and grace to describe their respective retirements. The end.