Monday, December 13, 2010

Brett Favre: 4 the Ages

Brett Favre’s pro football “iron man” streak is over having played an amazing 297 consecutive games. Given the wear and tear of professional football, size this up against Cal Ripken’s streak in baseball. Almost certainly, these are both feats of unbelievable commitment and intensity.

While Cal Ripken’s streak was an event worthy of national celebration, somehow Favre’s accomplishment falls short. Much of this has to do with what Favre’s story has been since leaving Green Bay, seemingly retiring at the end of the 2007 season.

After falling just a play short of guiding the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl only to fall short to the New York Giants. In early March, Favre gave his tearful farewell to the sports media. Green Bay took him at his word and prepared to have Aaron Rodgers ready to lead the team in 2008. As teams were preparing to begin training camp for the ’08 season, Favre decided retirement wasn’t such a good idea and wanted to return. The Packers wanted no part of it so for several weeks an escalating feud becoming increasingly hostile on both sides with each news cycle accelerated with Favre even dropping the suggestion that he would like to play for the archrival, Minnesota Vikings. The results were the Packers trading Favre’s contract rights to the New York Jets – a team sadly in need of leadership. Favre’s success was immediate but short-lived in New York where a series of injuries left him looking foolish to have not retired. What the media and public didn’t know was that the beloved southern boy charmer was engaged in some dirty business with a New York Jets female staffer who supposedly was sent naughty pictures by the legendary #4.

End of season, Favre supposedly retires again, but was anyone taking him seriously this time?

Favre refused to make commitments but the buzz was he was going to return to active play with the Minnesota Vikings, but when training camp began, there was no Brett Favre in camp. He still needed more convincing. He signed his deal with just one week to go before the regular season, and the 2009 season was almost all Brett Favre could dream of. The Vikings led the NFC north looking like a good bet to go to the Super Bowl. Favre led the Vikings to a strong 12-4 record, the second seed behind the eventual champions, the New Orleans Saints. The NFC championship would go to overtime perhaps because a Favre interception prevented the Vikings from being positioned for a game winning field goal. As with his last game with Green Bay, so close to the championship, but at the decisive moment – the goat, not the hero.

After the 2009 season, Favre remained vague and noncommittal on his plans. Any talk of retirement was dismissed until training camp began. What were the Vikings to do with their QB situation?

On July 28, Favre announced his intention to retire to the Vikings, but nobody thought that was his final answer. On August 18th, the local CBS station, WCCO-TV and ESPN said he’d return. A cadre of Vikings players was dispatched to Mississippi by team management to deliver the goods and the grandfather QB was back with the Vikings.

The 2010 season has been nothing short of an absolute disaster short of a few flashes of brilliance. The end result, an amazing streak, a hall of game career, 1992-2010. Cal Ripken’s streak went from 1982 to 1998 by comparison. Favre has three consecutive MVP awards from 1995-1997, eleven Pro Bowl selections and numerous longevity records.

It’s hard to imagine Brett Favre suiting up to play again. Fans will debate for a long time about how his last three years impacted his glory. Will they be seen as the mark of a relentless competitor or that of someone blinded by pride entering into a bizarre Faustian pact in an attempt to cheat father time?


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