Well, Brett Favre retired on March 6, 2008 so March 7th officially marks the beginning of the Aaron Rodgers era as the leader of the Green Bay Packers. But before I can think of turning over the reigns as a fan, let's take a look at who Rodgers is replacing.
Brett Favre was a blue-collar player in a blue-collar town; he came to work everyday with his pail in hand, and worked his ass off everytime he stepped on that field. Whether he was hurt, sick or whatever, he always showed up on time and simply did his job.
How can you compare him to a Marino, Elway or Unitas? Brett Favre is in a category of his own, and I hope other people don't try to compare others to Favre either. Like Jordan or Ruth, Favre is incomparable; others can just hope that they can come within eye-sight of them.
He quarterbacked Green Bay for 16 years; since I was eight, he's all I've ever known in a Packer uniform.
Trying to sum up Brett Favre's career is impossible, even picking out his top plays takes time, and you will always leave something out. My three best memories of #4 though are as follows:
3. On September 20, 1992, Don "The Magic Man" Majkowski goes down with ankle injury against the Bengals. Brett Lorenzo Favre, come on down!! As soon as he gets in the game, he looks like he has no clue what the hell he's doing, but the Packers are still in the game. In a matter of minutes, it's like all of a sudden he figures it out. He leads an amazing drive down the field within the final minutes of the game. He then finds Kitrick Taylor streaking down the sideline, and hits him for a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds. The next week, he starts for the Pack, and never gave up the position until he retired, 16 years and 275 straight starts later.
2. Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans at the Louisiana Superdome. The redneck QB had finally come back home, (Kiln, MS was no more than 30 miles away), to play the biggest game of his career. He starts out by calling an audible on the third play from scrimmage, and finding a wide open Andre Rison for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. I will never forget the sight of Brett Favre running around the field with his helmet off, like a little kid. He followed that up by connecting with Antonio Freeman for an 81-yard TD. Brett then used his agility to run for a TD as well. His one and only Super Bowl victory came at the place that he always dreamed of playing in as a kid.
1. December 22nd 2003, Oakland, CA; Packers vs Raiders on MNF. Favre suffered his greatest loss of all, when his father and best friend 'Big Irv' passed away less than 24 hours prior to gametime, of a heart-attack. Irv coached Brett all the way through high school. There was no way Brett could control his emotions enough to play this game. But I, and I'm sure everybody in Packer Nation knew, that there was no way Brett would MISS this game. Irv always told Brett, "If you can't walk off the field then crawl; if you can't crawl off, then I'll come get you." So Brett was not going to simply walk away from this game when there was nothing wrong with him. Even in a pre-game talk with the entire team, Brett told all the other 52 players, "I got your back tonight." Hearing that, the others simply couldn't do anything else, but play their butts off for their courageous leader. Brett put together the greatest tribute to his father that he could, throwing for 399 yards, 4TD's and no INT's in a 41-7 blowout of the Raiders. The receivers caught every ball that Brett Favre threw in the air; it's like they had help from the skies above (thanks Irv). Even the Raider faithful had to applaud his performance that night. After the game ended, Favre could finally grieve.
That Raider game showed everybody just how tough the guy from "The Kill" really was. Nothing could stop him from playing a game that he would've played for free, not bad knees, separated shoulders, a broken right thumb or even the loss of his father. I wish there were more guys in the NFL like Favre.
The fact that Favre is gone really hasn't sunk in for me yet, but probably will once training camp starts and I don't see the #4 anywhere. We all knew that this day was coming, but didn't think it would happen this soon. We didn't have any warning, no time to prepare, but we must move on.
He's not coming back (despite what others think), that's not the Brett Favre way. Sure he'll continue to wonder, especially when June rolls around, but he'll just have to move on.
So Aaron Rodgers, it's now your time to shine. We, as Packer Nation, don't expect you to be Brett Favre, or even come close to what Brett was, but we expect you to play like Brett. By that I mean, show up with your pail, and do whatever it takes to win. And even if you don't win, make sure that you leave it all on the field and hold nothing back. Oh, and be fearless, even if it results in mistakes, because you got to believe that the next one is going for six.
And as far as Brett Favre goes, I'll be there in Canton in 2013, wondering who will introduce him now.
(Part 2 to come after the NFL Draft)