I couldn't bring myself to write a Brett Favre retirement piece after it happened the first time. The man literally reduced to me to tears last spring when he announced he wasn't sure he had the passion anymore.
I don't mean "Oh Leonardo is frozen and the lifeboats are coming" tears (Wait, did I just admit to crying watching Titanic?) No, I was sobbing and heaving because the man who taught me how to love the game, the player who made me proud to be a quarterback, didn't have the passion anymore.
I didn't fault him for wanting to come back and play. I got it. No one in the history of sports loved to play anything more than Brett Favre loved to play football. I couldn't possibly begrudge him the opportunity to play. I didn't even fault him for wanting to stick it to Ted Thompson whose stubbornness, it seemed at the time, forced Brett to want to come back with the Vikings.
If Favre was going to come back, he was going to come back guns blazing at the man who done him wrong, just like the cowboy he is.
Well, it seems that isn't really how it went down. Turns out, Favre wanted to come back and Thompson, along with head coach Mike McCarthy said, "Sure Brett, we'd love to have you back."
The Pack was coming off a division title and a painful loss in the NFC Championship game, and Brett was coming off a renaissance campaign. It made sense to let him have a do over.
But then Favre decided he wasn't coming back. OK. Done deal. Aaron, it's your job again.
Wait, just kidding. Only this time Brett trashed Thompson and the Packers in the media, saying he was "forced" out of Green Bay. Word from those who know Thompson personally was he was a straight shooter and he wasn't going to play games for the media's sake. He was going to tell the truth.
I was advised to believe Thompson, but of course he hadn't delivered me a Super Bowl ring, and nearly two decades worth of Sunday afternoons. Now, that looks like the most lucid thing anyone has said about this whole situation.
Why the diatribe? Catharsis for one, context another.
Favre may be a good old boy, and he's still the guy who picks up receivers and carries them around the field. But he's also a man whose been spoiled by the spotlight. His family is famously in love with the media.
Plenty of people suggested it was their influence that weighed heavily on Favre's decision to come back in the first place. A Brett Favre apologist (and I know far too many) might say that none of this is Brett's fault. He just wanted to play and he was manipulated by media hungry friends and family.
The problem is, Bonita Favre didn't raise no dummy.
This is the work of Favre. It has all the marking of a Favre game plan. "Who cares if there is triple coverage, I'm throwin it cuz I can fit it in" and much more like the older Favre, the pass was off the mark. .
He threw a proverbial pick-six with Packers fans. Wanting to play was one thing. I told you, I forgave him for that. Wanting to play for the Dome Queens is quite another thing in Wisconsin. Furthermore, wanting to play with the express purpose of demolishing your former team is ground for a hanging.
Look it up, it's in Green Bay law.
My sister said the best thing about Brett's decision this offseason, "Brett has played enough games in December at Lambeau to know what all that blaze orange means; Packer fans are gun owners. He's gonna get shot!"
At his Packers Hall of Fame induction recently Dorsey Levens said something that I believe to be incredibly cogent.
He said something to the effect of, "If you don't like Brett playing in Minnesota, then let him know. Boo him when he plays at Lambeau. But when he goes up there to get inducted into the Hall, cheer. Cheer for everything he gave to this organization"
Dorsey was right, as you might expect a good Syracuse native to be (I'm a Syracuse Alum).
In fact, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Everything I loved about Brett Favre drove him to the position he was in. He loved Green Bay. I truly believe that. He loved the fans and he loved playing at Lambeau. Those weren't crocidile tears at the press conference last spring, he was truly heart broken to be hanging it up.
But when he decided to come back (the second time that spring) and the Packers basically said "Sorry, we've moved on" Favre was jilted. He was more than jilted he was heartbroken, like I'd been watching him admit defeat in retirement.
The passion and fire that made him a great quarterback was driving his actions. Even if it was the best decision for the Packers to trade Favre instead of bring him back, Brett never saw it that way, and how could we expect him to?
From a fans perspective, what Favre has done seems unforgivable. In Green Bay, more than anywhere else, they're the ones writing checks for the players. He owed to the fans to think with more clarity about their reaction to his decision. I can't justify his actions, but for me, there is no justification.
But I understand it now. Surely the media attention was planned. He likes it. Who wouldn't? That isn't a free-pass on that either.
Even Michael Irvin said what Brett was doing was bogus. Do I even really need to say it? It's Michael Irvin. If he thinks you're messing up, chances are you're REALLY messing up. But it shoudln't have surprised anyone who watched him play.
The player who if you told him, "I bet you can't throw the ball throw a tire on a moving pick up truck going 50 from across the highway" would have said "Watch me."
The man who overcame addiction to pain killers and alcohol, not to mention unspeakable and untimely loss in his family.
A man who played and often lived with reckless abandon, hoping for the best, was always both dazzling and maddeningly disappointing. That was who we saw the last year and a half, and we, as Packer fans, should have understand.
Appropriately enough, he regained his MVP form and did what was best for both him and the Green Bay Packers.
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