I remember it so vividly.
I was nine years old at the time and my parents and I just left church to go eat at the now-closed Callahan's restaurant in Oshkosh, WI. On the television there, the Green Bay Packers were hosting the Cincinnati Bengals. I just happened to look up and see starting quarterback Don Majkowski go down with an ankle injury.
"There goes the season," my dad said. "Holmgren has his hands full. Next year."
Enter Brett Lorenzo Favre.
We all know what happened next. Favre led a come from behind victory and took over the starting quarterback position for the Packers and eventually won a Super Bowl title and three league MVP awards. He quickly became a hero to kids all over the country.
But to the kids (like me) who grew up in Wisconsin, he was so much more than that. We wanted to BE Brett Favre. We all had posters, figures, and God knows what else with his name on it in our rooms. We wore his jersey to school and always mimicked him when we played touch football.
Once I realized I had no talent on the football field, I decided to instead live life like Favre. No, that doesn't mean I started drinking heavily at a young age like Favre did his first few years with the Packers. No, I decided to first always have fun, then work hard at what I do, and then never lose my child-like enthusiasm. Sounds like Favre to a T, right?
Also, Favre was always the humble one. Fame and fortune never went to his head. He gave away millions to charity and anyone who met him said he just seemed like a regular guy. Parents all over told their kids to be more like him and wished there were more role models like him in the world.
Wonder if parents today think the same thing?
This is what makes Favre's descent into madness the past few years so depressing and frankly tragic. It's never easy to see a childhood hero fall from grace. A strong emotional attachment between a player and the city he plays in is very rare. Dan Marino and Miami. LeBron and Cleveland. Derek Jeter and New York. Favre and Green Bay.
What Favre did in 2008 was one thing and what happened last year was another. But the whole charade this summer? Absolutely pathetic.
Any of my Facebook friends will tell you my status updates have mainly consisted of Favre jokes the past few weeks. That is exactly what Favre has become: a joke. People all over America are laughing at him, even his own agent called him a "drama queen."
Yet there is a side to this story that isn't that funny, really. I feel emotionally abused by the man. Seriously. You worship someone as a child, and then when you reach adulthood the fact that the person turned out to be a phony wounds you more than you realize.
Being stabbed in the back by your hero hurts. Period.
I can only imagine what a lot of kids (still young today) think of what happened with Tiger Woods. What he did was a lot worse than what Favre has done, but I was nearly 14 when Woods hit the big time, so I guess that really has no effect on me personally but I really feel for the ones who were.
Luckily I am at an age where I can make sense of all this. I will never forget the good times Favre gave all of us. He helped bring pure joy to my childhood and now I will forever wonder whether any of that joy was actually genuine. It's like watching Anakin Skywalker turn to the dark side in "Star Wars." Except with Anakin we knew it was coming.
Brett, if you ever read this, please know we loved you. We worshipped you.
Then you hoodwinked us. Don't blame it on Ted Thompson or the Packers. Hold yourself accountable. When you finally do retire, it will be hard for us to accept you into our lives again. You have no one but yourself to blame for your actions.
Heroes rise and fall all the time. Favre rose and now he has fallen. Can he rise from the ashes?
Time will tell and they say time heals all wounds. Personally, he wounded me pretty deeply. Will those wounds heal? Will I be able to tell my kids what a great man Favre was and how much fun he was to watch growing up?
I don't know. Time is ticking, Brett.