Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Thanks for the memories.

No more #4 slinging passes with reckless abandon. I was ten years old when Brett took over for the Majik Man and lead the Packers to victory over the Bengals. Ten. Now here I am, almost 26, and he is now retiring. Walking away from the game on his own terms. It is a sad day for me. Much like July 12th, 1996 when Kirby Puckett announced his retirement from baseball; I am left with a sad void in my sports-loving heart. With both Puckett and Favre, it did not matter who else was on the team - you always just assumed they had a chance to win. Watching Brett play the game was always exciting. He made every single moment of the game worth watching. Sometimes the excitement would be in joy over something amazing. Other times the excitement would be the irritation of him throwing yet another interception. Either way, I couldn't help but root for the guy. No matter how poor he played, I was always argue that none played the game better. He seemed to approach football like my two-year-old approaches life - full throttle with no regard to what is safe, proper or sometimes dare-I-say smart. The enthusiasm, fun, and belief that any throw was possible was hard not to love. For Packers fans, he brought forth an era of excellence not seen since the Lombardi days. For the NFL, there might never be a guy who loved the game and played with such gusto to ever grace the field again. Nothing seemed to ever derail the guy. Whether it was the improper lifestyle as a younger man that got him into trouble or the personal tragedies that seemed to come at a nonstop pace towards the end of his career. He just kept playing. In the end, it makes sense that the only thing that caused Brett to retire was his own decision. With such a successful season and perhaps a Super Bowl run on the horizon, it might be considered reckless for him to retire when he did, and yet that simply mimics the decision making he made on the field. Hearts are truly crushed in Green Bay and everywhere Packers fans are found. There will never be another one like him. Yet at the end of they day, I cannot help but feel happy for the guy. A chance to leave on his own terms with a legacy too big for words. Much like Paul Bunyan, years from now it will be hard to separate fact from fiction in all the stories of this legend of the gridiron. I am sad that my boys will never get to watch him play when they are old enough to truly understand the game. There will be great ones to watch for them I am sure, but he will always be one-of-a-kind. Well I guess I could go on and on, but I will end with two moments that will always stick out to me. The first is the first-round playoff absolute beating that the Packers took against St. Louis in January of 2002. The Rams took it to the Packers that day by close to 30 points and intercepted Favre 6 times! I was so upset and angry and yet as as I look back it makes me smile. No matter how many times they picked him off, Brett refused to stop slinging it down field. He refused to stop throwing heaters to guys 3 yards away from him. And he definitely did not get wrapped up in worrying about his stats. He simply played like he always played - with reckless abandonment. Six picks or zero picks, I wouldn't have him any other way. It was in games like that one that I was reminded that Favre was just an ordinary guy. The lunch-pail type as some call it. The second moment is the one I have autographed and framed. My wife bought me an autographed photo of him during the Super Bowl win against New England. He is running across the field, helmet raised high in his right hand with a boyish grin across his face. He is having the time of his life and he knows it. All emotion. That will be the picture I see in my head every time I think of Brett Favre. It does not matter what anyone else says, to me he will always be the best. It will never be the same watching Packers games in the future. Success or no success they are my team. But every game I watch from this moment on will be bittersweet because I know that the Old Gunslinger won't be there to make it exciting one way or the other. Goodbye Brett Lorenzo Favre. You will be missed but thanks for the memories.


Danielle said...

You are adorable. What a tribute to Brett. You could be a sports writer with this post - you should look into it. ESPN hiring? Like Rick Reilly, I love reading your words, even when I could care less about sports. It's a gift.