America’s favorite quarterback has decided to hang it up after 16 years in the NFL, because he thought the Packers didn’t want him back (guess that snafu with the accidental publishing on the Packers’ web site got back to him, didn’t it?) and also because he was tired of the physical and mental grind (although agent Bus Cook thinks he wants to play one more year.) I personally will miss watching Favre on the field; I could never say that I watched a Packers game that he didn’t go balls out for in the pursuit of winning. He deserves his status as an NFL legend.
If it comes out that the Packers didn’t want him back, could you blame them? Up until about four years ago, it would have been utter sacrilege to think that Favre should have retired — he was one of the few things keeping a sub-par team afloat. As soon as he hit the late 30s, the questions began and he started holding Green Bay hostage until he made a decision on whether or not to come back every season, and until the 2007 season, he was providing a template for Rex Grossman’s entire quarterbacking existence in Chicago with his proclivity towards throwing interceptions.
I would not dispute Favre’s credentials, and believe he’ll go to Canton easy. But let us not forget that this is the man who developed an “aw shucks” cult of personality around him, where sportswriters and analysts fawned in absolutely disgusting ways on a week-to-week basis (Joe Buck, looking at you too there, sir) — never mind excusing all-too human foibles in Favre that never, ever would have been permitted for other NFL players, particularly black ones. Do you think Donovan McNabb would have survived the pillory if he had been addicted to painkillers and outed as an alcoholic? Really?
I lost respect for Favre when he started holding the team hostage every season, but I lost a lot more when he guilt-tripped Javon Walker out of a holdout in 2004. Walker wanted to renegotiate his contract after a very good season; Favre took management’s side and the media lined up to call Walker selfish every hour, on the hour. Walker caved, and snapped his ACL on the first play of the 2005 season.
The next year, Favre began his retirement power plays, with no sense of irony.
So, you’ll have to excuse me a bit — I just want the paeans and brown-nosing to have some sense of levity as ESPN runs soft-focus profiles all day.