The day has finally come. It is time to say goodbye to everyone’s favorite fun-lovin’, gun-slingin’, Wrangler wearin’, 5’o clock shadow-havin’, burger eatin’, just another regular guy like you or me (except for the money, rugged good looks, and talent) quarterback. The announcement came early Monday morning around 7:30am Eastern Time: Brett Favre is officially retiring… probably. The announcement came by way of a voicemail that sounded strangely like an apologetic break-up on ESPN analyst Chris Mortensen’s cell phone, but at least this time it came straight from the horse’s mouth. Favre has finally said it: “It’s over.”
It seems he sees the importance of what far too many athletes these days are too foolish to realize, and that’s going out on top… and by top I mean almost leading his team to the Super Bowl. Sure he didn’t win the big one, but Favre did in 2007 what many said he was no longer capable of doing. Enjoying the best completion percentage of his career, his best passer rating and most passing yards since the late nineties, and once again leading the league in manly stubble, Favre proved he still had what it takes to compete. So after a season in which he was seemingly revitalized, most fans and media assumed the oft-fickle Favre would undoubtedly stick around for one more year. But Brett has decided last season’s success was enough, and now he is doing the right thing; He’s saying goodbye.
Beginning his career as a first round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons, Favre was immediately relegated to the bench behind Chris Miller (don’t worry… I don’t know who that is either). But only a year later, thanks to Falcons’ coach Jerry Glanville’s staunch belief in Miller, Favre was traded to the Green Bay Packers. From the ’92 season on, Favre made 275 consecutive starts and won a Super Bowl. Chris Miller played in a grand total of 40 more games, and Falcons fans were forever stuck with the haunting nightmare of what Brett Favre might have looked like doing the “Dirty Bird.” Former coach Jerry Glanville was discovered dead in his home in early 1997, his body was bloated and hanging from the ceiling fan by a belt… he was wearing a foam cheese-head (okay, so he didn’t really kill himself… but I’m sure he thought about it).
Over the course of his career Brett Favre became known as many things. As one of the league’s most fierce competitors, he was always the one you wanted to see with the ball in crunch time. He would become known as a clutch passer with a penchant for turning out extraordinary performances that we’ll all treasure for a lifetime. Whether it was his victory in Super Bowl XXXI, his 3 MVP seasons, his Monday Night Miracle (throwing for 4 TD’s and 399 yards one day after the passing of his father), or my personal preference, the surprise cameo he put on in 1998’s “There’s Something About Mary,” Brett Favre has dominated the TV screens of sports fans for the better part of 15 years. He owns nearly every passing record in the book. His jersey is the only Wisconsin sports jersey you will EVER see outside of the Badger State… ever. To put it simply, he will be missed by many.
Sportscenter will seem a bit lackluster next football season. The Lambeau cheese heads will be a bit less raucous. John Madden will cry himself to sleep each night and wake just a little bit less alive each morning. And as the years pass we as football fans will not forget what Brett Favre was. He was without a doubt one of the greatest to ever play this game we love so much. And he played it with just that… love. The entertainment and joy he has provided us over the years has truly been a gift.
I, for one, thank you Mr. Favre. It’s been a pleasure. And I very much look forward to writing my “Welcome back Brett Favre” column six weeks from now.