When Michael Jordan was recently voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he said it was a bittersweet honor.
While every player aspires to one day be enshrined with the all-time greats, Jordan explained, the Hall of Fame announcement was a drop-dead confirmation that his career was, indeed, finished.
So it goes with great athletes in the weeks, months, and in some cases, years after their retirement. Logically, they know they're too old to run with the kids anymore.
But on some days, they wake up with an extra spring in their step, or they're playing catch with their kids and the ball pops out of their hands the way it used to, or the jumper falls eight or nine times in a row, and the athlete begins to think, "Hmmm..."
This, I believe, is what is happening to Brett Favre. He still wants to play, and many of us football fans still want him to play. So, when the Jets gave Favre his outright release Tuesday, football "experts" and fans immediately began speculating, not on whether the QB would come back, but where he would end up.
The consensus seems to be the Minnesota Vikings, where an above-average quarterback could mean a deep playoff run, and where Favre wanted to go once his divorce with the Green Bay Packers appeared to be final.
I don't profess to know Brett Favre any more than you do, but make no mistake: Favre wants to play.
He loves the game, and frankly, he doesn't know anything else. He's been a quarterback for about 30 years. He would also love to wave away the stench of his brief tenure with the New York Jets.
Last season, Favre was rarely spectacular, often mediocre, and sometimes flat-out awful. Several knowledgeable NFL people said he was obviously hurt in some way, and they turned out to be right: Favre had a torn tendon in his right biceps.
But the off-again-on-again Favre has had some time to heal. He can probably still wing the ball.
And whether he says so or not, the prospect of sticking it to the Packers twice a season is enough to at least make him pick up a football, toss it around his back yard, and think about things.
Favre's agent, Bus Cook, says his client has no interest in playing football again, and that he simply obtained his release so he could retire as a Green Bay Packer.
Sounds perfectly logical, except for two things: One—sports agents are hardly known as champions for truth. And two—if Favre isn't at least considering returning to the game, why does he still have an agent?
There is a contingent of sports fans who are sick to death of hearing and reading about Brett Favre, and wish the guy would just fade away and make room for a new and exciting generation of players.
These folks have a point. But who are we, really, to tell him that his time is up? Who are we to say that he doesn't have every right to squeeze every single drop out of his athletic ability, then make his own decision to retire?
That decision lies with Favre and Favre alone, and regardless of his maddening indecision on the matter, we should just mind our own business and let him work it out for himself.
Favre—or at least his agent—is saying all the right things. But what do you bet that Favre picked up a football sometime today, twirled it around in his hands, and thought, "Hmmm..."