I never really understood the word “fickle”, so I finally looked it up in the dictionary:
Fickle: (adj) not constant or loyal.
I don’t think there could have been a more appropriate word to describe the comeback of Brett Favre. No, I am not referring to Brett Favre himself being fickle, I am referring to the fans of football, the front office of the Green Bay Packers, and most surprisingly those die hard Packer fans that donned #4 on their backs every Sunday watching their so-called “hero” give his all to get a victory for not only his team but to his fans as well.
Every football fan out there knew Brett was all about the game. You never heard about Brett demanding more money or going to jail—Brett stayed out of the public eye unless it had something to do with the game he loved most, football.
After Brett Favre retired on March of 2008, football fans everywhere hung their head and showed not only appreciation for one of the league’s most valuable players, but respect. He was a legend, a man in his own league, a man that had so much class and dignity, you could see it through a television screen.
I watched his tearful retirement and got a little teary myself, as I knew that HE knew he wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel, but he did it because he didn’t know if he could give 100% to the Green Bay Packers, and let’s face it, 100% is the only thing Brett Favre knew how to give.
But, could he really let the last play he ever made be an interception?
Some of us might be okay with that being our last play, knowing we would still be going down as one of the greatest QB’s of all time, but some of us, most of us, do not have the competitiveness that Favre has.
"Competitiveness alone won't win games, but when someone has some skill and then has competitiveness, they have a chance to be good", Irvin Favre, Brett’s father once said. "I knew Brett had a chance. I just did not know what he would do with it."
Many football fans, mainly GB ones, were irate at Favre wanting to be traded to the Minnesota Vikings, calling him selfish and a traitor. Wasn’t it Brett Favre that spoke openly about the Packers being his number No.1 team to play for? So Favre finally spoke out and said “If you won’t let me play for you, let me play against you.”
Selfish? No. Competitive? Yes. There is a difference. And that difference is what sets him apart from many athletes today.
Brett Favre played sixteen seasons with the Packers. During his time in Green Bay, he won three consecutive AP MVP awards—the first and only person in NFL history to do so.
He has led the Packers to 11 postseason appearances, including seven division crowns, four NFC Championship games, two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI. He ranks first all-time with 160 victories, and also in virtually every significant passing category.
Back in March of 2004, Brett was chosen as the No.1 “Toughest Guy in America” on the basis of his “fearlessness, perseverance, a willingness to take a risk, a tolerance for pain and even a dash of modesty". That was four years ago, and now people are saying he is “too old to play the game”?
Funny, how just a year ago, fans everywhere were singing a different tune.
I wasn’t aware that after retiring, one of the greatest athletes of all time would be ridiculed for wanting to come back and play for the team, the game and the fans he loved most. Unfortunately, his comeback was not as welcomed as one would have hoped.
He was criticized left and right, and was made to feel more of an inconvenience than a man who dedicated half of his life to the Packers. A man that has started in 253 consecutive games for Green Bay. A man that, learning of his father’s death the night before, took the field and passed for a total of 399 yards and threw 4 touchdown passes, crediting it all to his Dad:
"I knew that my dad would have wanted me to play," Favre said. "I love him so much, and I love this game. It's meant a great deal to me, to my dad, to my family, and I didn't expect this kind of performance. But I know he was watching tonight."
He is a man who chooses to play with his heart no matter what the circumstances are, even if it meant walking away from the team he honored more than most of us will ever know.
On March 4, 2008, Favre formally announced his retirement. Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, believed that Favre had not received the impression from the Packers that they wanted him back.
Would he still have retired had he felt different?
I guess we will never know, but what is clear is where the disloyalty came from in the Packers front office—Ted Thompson. Favre released this statement about his former boss:
“It’s hard for me to, you know, trust, you know, this guy when I...either I’m told one thing and everyone else is told another, or he’s telling the public one thing and telling me another. And so...that’s part of the reason for requesting the release. Not only was I told that playing here was not an option, we’re moving on—it’s kind of in their company line, moving on. That’s OK.”
Brett knew he wasn't wanted, so he did what many feared most and filed for reinstatement with the NFL, his petition soon granted by Commissioner Goodell. Brett was traded to the New York Jets and so was no longer a Green Bay Packer.
But, being the class act he is, Favre left Green Bay with these words, "I always wanted to be a Packer," he said. "I think I'll always be a Packer. People will say it was the best 16 years. I think it was made clear this offseason that they were moving forward—that's OK —it's time for me to move forward."
Only time will tell if one of football’s greatest athletes will succeed in New York. It still feels so wrong to be writing Brett Favre and New York Jets in the same sentence. But what feels right is that Brett is on that field again.
He is following the one thing many of us are too scared to follow because of the risk—he is following his heart.
And that is why he will always be a hero. A hero on and off the field and a hero within. Good luck Brett. You truly are an inspiration to athletes everywhere.