Favre spent 17 years – some heroic, some pitiful – in the National Football League. Selected by the Atlanta Falcons in 1991 as their 33rd overall draft pick, Favre’s first four passes were interceptions. Atlanta traded him to Green Bay the next year.
Favre found a home with the Packers and became their offense’s Big Cheese over the next 16 years, wining one Super Bowl after the 1996 season and returning the next year, only to get spanked by Denver in one of the greatest Super Bowl games in history.
During his career in Green Bay, Favre was a three-time MVP and went to nine Pro Bowls. He is one of only three quarterbacks in the NFL to have five 4,000-yard passing seasons and has a phenomenal 55 300-yard passing games. He is retiring with the career records for most touchdown passes, most passing yards and most victories by a starting quarterback. He was also the Cal Ripken of football, with 275 consecutive starts for the Packers.
Unfortunately for Favre and Green Bay fanatics, he left the field the same way he entered it – by throwing an interception, this time in the NFC Championship game against the G men to end Green Bay’s run to the Super Bowl.
After his retirement was announced, Favre admitted that he was simply tired, and I don’t blame him.
“I know I can still play, but it’s like I told my wife, ‘I am just tired mentally. I am just tired,’” Favre told ESPN after Monday’s announcement. “I know it shouldn’t feel unsuccessful, but the only way to come back and make that be the right decision would be to come back and win a Super Bowl. And honestly, the odds of that, they’re tough. Those are big shoes to fill and I guess it was a challenge I wasn’t up for.”
Favre was a popular quarterback on a national scale. Both his and Green Bay’s success and popularity garnered the team a large number of nationally televised games. For me, having Green Bay on Monday Night Football a couple times a year was exciting, whether I liked them at the time or not, which I usually didn’t.
But I could always respect Favre and his work ethic. Granted, I thought he should have hung it up two seasons ago. He was terrible in the 05/06 seasons, throwing more interceptions than touchdown passes.
But last year he had records to break and, much to my dismay went ahead of John Elway in most victories by a starting quarterback. With that, he surprisingly started playing well again – salt-and-pepper-hair and all. That’s when I became a fan.
Favre was playing football for fun and that attitude put him and the rest of the Packers into the NFC Championship game. Did anyone see how gleeful he was when he took the touchdown record earlier in the season? After the catch that broke the record, Favre shook hands with every Tom, Dick and Harry for at least 10 minutes in complete joy.
I also became a Favre fan last season because it seemed Green Bay was the only team that could compete against the then-undefeated New England Patriots. Yes, I was willing to jump on any team’s bandwagon that had a shot at beating the Pats, and I still think they could have done it had they made it to the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, Packer fans have a tough time ahead of them. We here in Bronco country have been reeling from the retirement of football-God John Elway since 1999. There will never be another Elway, but we can’t seem to let go of the glory years.
It will be the same for Packers’ fans. Every new Green Bay quarterback, no matter how good or respected, will be compared to their patron-saint Favre. And it will be decades before cheeseheads will forget about his greatness and move on. So I say to you Green Bay fans, good luck in your mental gloom over the next few years. I know what you are going through. Stay away from the Favre highlight films, it only opens old wounds.
And for God’s sake, don’t pick up Brian Griese as a quick fix for your quarterback woes.