A career gone Favre enough

By: Robert E. Meyer

On March 4th, fans of the Green Bay Packers received their April Fool’s prank about four weeks early–except this was no joke.

Brett Favre, the Packer’s iconic quarterback since the stone age, shocked the sporting world by announcing his retirement.

At first I was disappointed and upset, feeling jilted like a bride to be, stood up at the church altar. But then I came to realize that the proper response was to be thankful for the memories–the many seasons in the sun.

There was a sense of bewilderment among fans, that Favre could leave the game he loved when there was so much game left inside of him. Many of us thought he might decide to hang up his cleats after less successful campaigns in recent years past, but I never considered his retirement a possibility after the success of this last season.

Many of us remember how it started. In 1992 the Packers had two first round draft choices to help replenish the team after a couple of dismal seasons. Then the new GM, Ron Wolf traded the higher pick for some other team’s third-string quarterback. To make matters worse, nobody could pronounce his name correctly. I thought the Packer management was nuts.

A few months later Favre got his chance to play due to injuries and made the most of it. He threw a bomb to long forgotten wide receiver Kitrick Taylor, snatching victory from the hands of defeat in the final seconds, and the legend began from there. My wife said then that we had our quarterback. Favre has played every game since that September afternoon.

Since then, Favre has broken most of the statistical career records for NFL quarterbacks. While he was not the most mechanically sound quarterback, he played the game with such unparalleled passion, that it was inspirational, while at the same time, highly entertaining.

Favre left everything on the field, he took outrageous gambles that made him look brilliant when they worked, and made us groan when they backfired. When I saw Favre’s early season performances, I began to suspect this year would be special. It was easy to believe that somehow he cheated grandfather time, and transcended even the gravity of age.

If I had Brett’s ear I would tell him he’s crazy to quit now, but my motivation would be entirely selfish. I simply can’t bear the thought that he would not be on the field when I flip on the T.V. next fall–and that’s what hurts.

After hearing Brett’s press conference, I have complete closure and understand his rationale. His retirement has parallels to A.E. Houseman’s poem “To An Athlete Dying Young.” Houseman extolls the athlete, a runner, who dies in his prime. People will have no choice but to remember him at his best, rather than as the pathetic image of a “has been” who tries to extend his career over a bridge too far.

Likewise we will remember Brett as one who made his final pit stop when he had gas for a few more laps left in his tank. He certainly left the game on his own terms when so many athletes his age are put out to pasture due to injuries or diminished ability.

Favre is the first to admit he will miss the game. But the increasing mental fatigue and a maturing family are weighing on him. In the past several years Favre has endured more person tragadies then the biblical plagues of Egypt. Somehow these adversities elevated his performances, rather than diminishing them. But there is a time when every man cries out “No Mas.” That time has come for Brett.

Those who come to play at Lambeau field for the Packers in future seasons, will see that it is girded by a huge colonnade bearing the numeral “4″. Rather than cowering in his shadow, they should climb upon his shoulders.

The Wizard of Oz told the Tin Man that what counts is not how much you love, but how much you are loved by others. In that category, not just in football, Favre moves to the head of the class.

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