Dear Brett Favre:
Yep, that inevitable moment finally came last week; you told the world you were walking away from professional football. I guess many of us knew your retirement day would eventually arrive, but the reality of you not suiting up next season has yet to sink in. Without you, Brett, the game of football becomes just a little bit different–and NOT in a better way. All I can do now is send along my gratitude for 17 wonderful years, Mr. Favre; hear me out for just a bit.
Thanks for becoming synonymous with that ONE franchise over the years, Brett; oh yeah, you threw five passes in a Falcons uniform when you were a struggling rookie, but once you arrived in Green Bay, you immersed yourself in the Packer tradition, won a Super Bowl, and went NOWHERE else. Your devotion to one team happily reminds me of another athlete named Brett–George of the Royals–another guy who truly understood the meaning of the term “loyalty.”
Thank you for being there EVERY week, Brett. Your record string of 275 consecutive starts for a QB (including the postseason) says it all about your love for the game and unmatched desire to compete. I know there were weekends when you weren’t even CLOSE to feeling 100% physically, Brett, but even the Wisconsin National Guard would have had trouble keeping you out of uniform on those particular Sundays. I know that streak meant a lot to you; it TELLS a lot about you, too.
Thanks for showing us your “human side,” Brett, and the ability to fight back. Yeah, there was the painkiller addiction, your affinity for booze, and your wife’s battle with breast cancer. You faced each individual battle and bravely overcame each–perhaps the game of football being your “saving grace” throughout it all. In my opinion, your vulnerability contributed to your “regular guy” image, Brett; yeah, you were never really different than any of us except for the Superman-like heroics you’d demonstrate on any given Sunday.
Thanks for personifying what the term “guts” is all about, #4. With tears in your eyes, you scorched the Raiders for 399 yards passing and four touchdowns the day after your Dad passed away in 2003–knowing he’d want you play. I remember you saying after the game that you felt like your father was watching that night, Brett; I watched, too–in total amazement.
Thank you for your immense enthusiasm, Mr. Favre. You always reminded me of a little kid on Christmas morning the way you approached each game. Your joy was truly GENUINE every time you threw a TD pass–a record 442 of them in all. I’d love the way you’d sprint to the end zone to meet your wide receivers after a scoring strike; I’m almost convinced you ran faster in those celebratory situations than you did when you were chased in the pocket by 300-pound linemen. Yeah, no doubt–you just LOVED football. My colleague Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant recently wrote this about you: “Favre never played quarterback like a corporation. He played it like a country boy.” Yes, how true–and SO refreshing.
Yes, again, the WAY you played football was incredible, Brett–and I thank you for that. You were the master of improvisation, the gun-slinging escape artist, and the true “sheriff” in Titletown, U.S.A. Sounds like the roles of a movie star, huh, Brett? Well, you were a star, for sure–without all the Hollywood glitter.
Thanks for proving many of us wrong when you came back for another season in 2007, Brett. Yours truly was among those who were convinced your playing days should have ended after a very mediocre 2006. You responded by throwing 28 TD passes and taking your team to the NFC title game. Yes, I guess the doubters out there always fueled you, Brett, ever since those many football fans uttered “Who?” when your name was mentioned during the 1991 draft. They’re ALL familiar with you now, Mr. Favre–trust me.
Thanks for leveling with us when you called it a career, Brett. While acknowledging you can still play the game, you also uttered, “I’m just tired.” Yeah, 5,377 competions and over 61,000 yards passing–both records–can do that to you. And thanks in advance for STAYING retired, Brett; you may have not won another Super Bowl–as was your wish–but you truly went out on top. It’s time, Brett. You’re now at the very top of an esteemed list of all-time Packer greats. You were the poster boy for toughness, for Lambeau Field, and for Green Bay in general. In short, you were the Bobby Layne of your day–with a championship ring.
Finally, thanks for the show of raw emotion at your press conference, Brett. The tears flowed as you struggled to find the right words to convey that you were done with football–a game you played with a “blue-collar” flair. Yes, even a tough guy can cry, Mr. Favre.
Thanks, #4, and best of luck.