He was gritty.
He was brash.
He was fearless, flinging the ball down-field with reckless abandon.
Game after game, year after year, he came in, got hit, got up, and kept playing. He led his team down-field time and again, when lesser men would have succumbed to the pain.
He faltered three times at the final gate before finally breaking through and winning it all in Super Bowl XXXI over the upstart New England Patriots.
He played 16 years for the storied Green Bay Packers, then announced his retirement in a tearful press conference.
Shortly thereafter, he had a change of heart, and when the Packers would not take him back, he played one more year for the also-storied New York Jets. The Jets let him go, and questions swirled as to whether or not he had one more year in him.
Finally, on July 28, 2009, he made his decision. This time, he would stay retired.
Thank you, Brett. Thank you for the games you played; thank you for the excitement you brought to the game.
Thank you, most of all, for leaving with your legacy intact. Thank you for leaving at a point where the last fans who came on board can remember you for your greatness, and not as some old, worn out used-to-be hanging on to the glory a bit too long.
Brett Favre's legacy right now is unblemished. And rightfully so.
His career is one for the ages, not likely to be matched or surpassed for some time. Hell, he shouldn't even have played.
After one forgettable season with the Atlanta Falcons, Brett was part of a trade to the Packers. During his physical, he was diagnosed with a disease that should have been the end of it: avascular necrosis, which is the same disease that ended Bo Jackson's athletic career.
Somehow, Packers GM Ron Wolf managed to have the doctor's recommendation overruled.
The rest, as they say, is history.
To Wit: His first pass as a Packer was a seven-yard loss to himself.
From September 20,1992, when he permanently took the helm from Don "Majik Man" Majkowski, to January 20, 2008, his last game as a Packer, he started every game. Counting the playoffs, that comes to 291 games.
He holds the record for most touchdowns, passing yards, completions, attempts, games with at least three touchdowns, and more ignobly, most career interceptions—a testimony to his penchant for throwing the ball without looking as he fell to the turf—most playoff interceptions, and most playoff losses as a starting quarterback.
He is one of only three quarterbacks to win against all 31 other teams in the NFL (Tom Brady and again, Peyton Manning, for the curious).
He is one of only four quarterbacks to lead the league in touchdowns in a season on four different occassions.
And he ranks behind only John Elway for most "come-from-behind" victories, with 39 to Elway's 42.
But Brett Favre was more than just his records.
Right to the very end, players and fans alike had a sense that, if he was in the game, they had a chance to win. Somehow, some way, Brett would find the magic, and all would be okay.
Even those of us who weren't Packers fans—yes, I know, blasphemy—found ourselves pulling for Brett and the Packers in the Super Bowl. But hey, the guy deserved it. He worked his butt off, and gave his team every ounce of effort when he was on the field.
We even secretly hoped, when he traded Packer Green for the "Gang"green of the Jets, that he would excel and win it all, or at least get to the big show.
Alas, it was not to be. The fans knew it, the players and coaches knew it, and ultimately, it looks like Brett Favre knows it too.
Now that it's over, we can all start pushing to have the minimum waiting period waived so we can get the man into Canton where he belongs. And it needs to be in a Packers' uniform, because the last season with the Jets was nothing more than a farewell tour.
Everything he did, everything he will be remembered for, he did as a Packer.
So, once again, thanks for the memories, Brett. And thanks for ensuring that they will all be memorable.
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