Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Was Last Night (Finally) Favre’s Last Game?

Corey Wootton (from Northwestern!) sacks Favre in what could be his last NFL play

When they play the highlight reel at Brett Favre’s induction ceremony into the NFL Hall of Fame, I’m going to guess there won’t be many vignettes from 2010.  While his decision to play through pain to start last night’s Monday Night Football game was vintage Favre, any fan of the game had to wince seeing a 41-year old get thrown to the frozen ground like a rag doll (it is not “Frozen Tundra” in Minneapolis, by the way, Cris Collinsworth).  Favre’s decision to return for what, God willing, will be his last NFL season must rank among the worst decisions ever – right up there with starting a land war in Asia and drinking milk on a hot day.

The logic was probably persuasive when half the Vikings staff came down to Hattiesburg to convince Favre to come back this season.  “We were one play away from a Super Bowl.”  “The team needs you.”  “Sidney Rice is ready to rock.”  “We’ll sign Randy Moss if we have to.”  “Tavaris Jackson can’t carry the mail.”  "Don't you want to retire as a Super Bowl champion?!"  And so on.  Unlike 2009, when Favre was playing for himself, this year he was playing for the other guys on the team – most of whom are young enough to be his son.

No doubt his pre-season calculus did not consider all the costs of a 20th NFL season – which, in retrospect, included his health, his reputation, potentially millions in endorsements (my personal favorite is this Wrangler "open fly jeans" commercial), his consecutive starts streak, and, possibly, his marriage and family.  Big price to pay – particularly when it was all for a team that will finish the season under .500 and far out of playoff contention.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a Brett Favre hater.  I just hate the Vikings, and he happens to be their quarterback.  My sincere hope is that Favre finally recognizes his own limitations and retires this year.  As soon as he does, I fully expect him to be re-embraced by Packer nation, ending this internecine feud among us.  It may take a few years of healing, but no Packer fan will be able to watch his number being retired at Lambeau Field without getting sentimental.  Even if he doesn’t do the one-day symbolic “retire as a Packer” thing (see Jerry Rice), Brett Favre will always be a Green Bay Packer.

"Famous Redskins Coach Vince Lombardi" (just doesn't sound right)
Forrest Gregg as a Dallas Cowboy in 1971.

After all, nobody remembers Vince Lombardi as a Washington Redskin or Forrest Gregg as a Dallas Cowboy even though he played against them in the Ice Bowl.  They are iconic as Packers.  Green Bay is where they had their success.  It is where they built their legend and legacy.  It is the team they identified themselves with for years to come.  And it is how they will be remembered.  The same will be true for Favre.  And the photo montage of 2010 below will be long forgotten in the annals of NFL history.

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