When Future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre first retired in 2007 after 16 years of playing for the Green Bay Packers many thought he was doing the right thing. He was 37 years old and over his career he did more for his team and the Green Bay organization then most players could ever dream of. He was a player who had always seem to put his team first, despite his many individual achievements.
During his career with Green Bay, Favre helped lead the Packers to 7-Division Titles, 2-NFC Championships and won a Super Bowl. He also won the Most Valuable Player Award three consecutive seasons. Statistically, Favre has set so many milestones that most quarterbacks coming into the league will be doing well to accomplish half of his success. Favre has thrown 464 career touchdown passes, passed for 65,127 yards, completed 5,720 passes, has 9,280 career pass attempts, made 291 consecutive starts, and lead his team to 169 victories all NFL records by a quarterback.
Favre always seemed to be a kid in the candy store while on the football field. He would turn negative plays in positive ones all the time. He made so many game winning comebacks that little kids watching at home knew their dreams of leading their favorite team to a Super Bowl victory with 20 seconds left could happen with hard work and determination. He gave so many people hope whether through football or one of his various charities.
When he retired for the first time is was the end of another great legacy. Toward the end of his stint in Green Bay he realized he was no longer the franchise player, when the Packers selected Aaron Rodgers with the 24th pick in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Knowing his time there seemed limited, Favre remained himself even with the fact that at anytime he could be pulled out for Rodgers to take over. Through it all he kept his head up and finished out two more seasons before announcing his retirement.
At the end of the 2007 season in front of the media and his Green Bay teammates Favre bid his farewell to the game that he loved and cherished. From his emotional good bye it seemed that he was all done, and many fans looked forward to seeing him in the booth as a broadcaster for Sunday or Monday Night football games. However with his never ending give it all or nothing attitude he decided that maybe he still had some gas in the tank and took up the NY Jets offer to come out of retirement and take over as the starting quarterback. When he arrived at Jets camp it was reminiscent of the good old days when Broadway Joe Namath ran the Jets offense, except the Favre led Jets did not do so well, missing the playoffs and finishing the season 9-7. After a grueling season in which he injured his shoulder, Favre announced his “official” retirement for the second time in two years. And though it was sad to see him go it was time, the game seemed to be moving at a faster pace then he could.
After months of denying speculation that he might be coming back again, he did the unimaginable right as the 2009 season was about to start announcing that he would once again come out of retirement to take over as the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. Now it seemed like Favre was no longer looking out for the best interest in his team but himself. He was an aging quarterback with a torn up shoulder that did not know when to just shut it down. It seems Favre became victim to the same thing that many others like him have “The Limelight”. Its hard enough being the average Joe walking away from sports, as you get older. Now imagine being the face of an NFL franchise constantly in the media always being asked to do commercials and making public appearances. To doing nothing but just sitting at home fishing and maybe doing a couple of appearances here and there, must not have seemed to be fulfilling enough.
For most of us to be able to retire at the age of 39 with more money than you could imagine would be fantastic, but for a superstar it’s not so easy. While there have only been a few legendary players who have walked away in their prime like the Cleveland Browns great Jim Brown, and Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions. Most professional players just don’t know when to say enough even though there is nothing left for them to prove. For instance Jerry Rice probably the best wide receiver to ever play the game played well beyond his prime trying to prove he could still do it. Even in other sports players have a hard time leaving the limelight like Michael Jordan the greatest to ever play on an NBA court.
While we as fans say they should just know when to give it up. It is we that make true legends want to give it their all no matter how old or what condition their body is in. It seems that when they retire they feel they are letting us fans down, recognizing we have supported them through the ups and downs in their careers. So while we can sit here and try to justify why Favre should stay retired, you have to think about all the game winning plays he has made how much he has contributed to the sport, and not solely focus on the Viking 2-year $25-million dollar contract, after all, who would say no to that.
The only question that remains is will Favre’s decision to keep playing taint his status as one of the all time greats. There will always be a debate as to who the greatest quarterback of all time is. The generation you grew up in usually dictates your belief. Despite the fact that present day NFL quarterbacks seem to be breaking all the old records. My grandfather still insists to this day that Johnny Unitas, and Bart Starr are the two greatest to ever play the game. My father’s choices are Joe Namath, Warren Moon and Dan Marino. I would have to say my top quarterbacks of all time would have to be Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, and Favre. But my favorite quarterback is Donovan McNabb and that’s because I’m an Eagles fan.