Now that Brett Favre has “officially” retired again, everybody still seems to have an opinion of what Brett Favre has done, is doing, or will do. Few football players elicit the passion that Brett Favre does.
Some don’t believe he is really retired; others believe he really is retired but still resent he didn’t stay that way last year. Yet others take him at his word and are moping around for how to fill their NFL dance card this fall.
Others hope this means we never hear a word about him again (and yet they love to read his articles).
This past year seemed to bring out the worst in NFL fans, to say nothing of Favre fans. Men who professed to be Favre fans plastered the Internet with pride stating they were now “Favre haters.”
People who defended Favre were accused of drinking “the Kool-Aid” and not being in their right minds.
Writers mocked Favre’s tears at his retirement announcement from Green Bay. No man who had changed his mind was ever under such fire as Brett Favre.
The rights and wrongs of Ted Thompson vs. Brett Favre were heatedly debated well into Brett’s season as New York Jet. (In some places, arguments still rage.)
Brett’s first 11 games with the Jets were largely ignored after the last five games went so badly.
While he was single-handedly credited with leading the Jets to victory through the Titans and the Patriots, he was blamed for personally snatching the Super Bowl from their hands (a team that had been 4-12 the previous season.)
Writers at various web sites even asked “Why are we so hard on Favre?” His accomplishments and character were compared to iconic Quarterbacks throughout history, and he was found wanting.
So why does everyone have an opinion on Brett Favre and why do so many love to hate him?
The answer seems both complicated and simple.
Brett like few others is a "People's Quarterback." He's not spending his millions on private Jets, famous SI models (although Deanna could certainly be one) and diamond earrings. People were angry he had only a $475,000 house in Green Bay.
He is like one of the people. Because of this, we all think he really is one of us. We think we know him. We think he’s a family member. We think we know the true Brett Favre.
We want to advise him, chastise him, compliment him, love him and hate him. All because there is something about him that makes it seem WE own him.
When Tony Romo is on a Yacht in the Bahamas, he's not like us. When Ben Roethlisberger flies his offensive players home in his own private Jet, he’s not like us.
But when Brett goes home and mows, he's like us. When he likes to sit in a tree, hunting or not, he's like us. When he wants to talk things over with his spouse, he's like us.
And when he can't make up his mind, he's like us. And most of all, when he makes glaring mistakes, he's like us. When he makes glorious passes, he's what we would like to be. Sometimes we don't forgive him that he can't do that 100 percent of the time.
And since he's the people's quarterback, sometimes we forget compassion, good will, forgiveness, allowing his humanness. We treat him like we would our brother who just really made us mad. But we do it publicly and with unaccountability.
We wonder why he couldn’t be a good boy and not upset the cart by leaving Green Bay to play elsewhere. We even refer to it as a “divorce”—Somehow Brett broke up our happy home.
We may at times see the worst of ourselves in Favre-times we couldn’t make up our minds, times we fought with our boss and lost, times we were openly self-assured only to be uncertain later. When we see ourselves in Favre, we get angry with him.
We may even say we “hate him.” He just isn’t supposed to have our flaws.
What we have to remember, is that these are also all the reasons millions have loved Brett Favre and he has been so watchable.
Brett displays his humanity; he shows love, excitement and disappointment. Favre refuses to be the one dimensional comic book hero we grew up reading. Instead, he stands before us publicly, unapologetic for being human, for being his own man, and, yes, for leaving the fold because he needed to.
I, for one, never want to give up the parts that make Brett Favre both legendary and human. He brought excitement to our lives as the flawed hero.
He could throw one into triple coverage and amaze us all as the Packers won the game, or, conversely, make us curse under our breath as a championship slipped away. Whether we won or lost, there was always a moment of Favre excitement in every game.
I know this year he has sent in his retirement papers; last year he never did. I accept him in all his glory, his earthiness, and his humanness.
Oh, and also as the Ironman who never missed a game in 17 years. That part is not like most of us, but we would like it to be.
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