The news blindsided me from out of the blue, if I can mix my metaphors. I was in my truck on my way to work when out of nowhere Brian Murphy from the Murph & Mac morning show on KNBR just blurted it out: Brett Favre retired today.
“WHAT?” I shouted out loud. I couldn’t believe it.
It seems a little silly to care so much about the comings and goings of a sports star at the age of thirty, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m pretty bummed out. Brett has made toying with retirement a postseason ritual for the last few years, but this is the one time when it seemed apparent that he would return for another season. The Packers were 13-3 last year, a surprise to everyone including Brett, and missed the Super Bowl by a field goal. Individually, Brett had not only his best season in years, but one of the top three or four in his 17 year career. With a career resurgence and a young talented team, it seemed natural that Brett would come back for at least one more run. I guess that’s why the news came as such a shock.
I became a Brett Favre fan, as did most everyone I suppose, back in the mid-90’s. I grew up in the Bay Area so I had plenty of exposure to great quarterback play in the person of Joe Montana, but Brett’s game was more exciting to me. Some would say that was because he took unnecessary risks, which he often did, but more often than not those risks paid off. Sure, he ends his career with more interceptions than any other QB in history, but also more TD’s, wins, completions, and an unbelievable streak of 272 consecutive starts. Watching Brett work was pure entertainment. I mean the man’s first completed pass was to himself! What a perfect way to begin a brilliant and exciting career. The great thing about watching him is that you could always tell he was enjoying himself. I can’t say how many times after he’d throw a touchdown pass I saw him run over to the receiver, pick him up over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and run around the field, while pumping his other fist in the air. Or who can forget the time he ran for a touchdown and then attempted (emphasis on “attempted”) to dunk the ball over the goalpost crossbar. Who else in the history of the NFL would ever do something like that. The stoic Tom Brady or calm, cool, collected Montana? I don’t think so. He played the game like we all think we would play it if we had his immense talent. You could tell he was actually enjoying himself.
Now that he’s finally hung them up, the debate, which has already been simmering, on his place among the all-time great quarterbacks will begin in earnest. There’s going to be a lot of people saying that Montana or Marino or, someday, Manning and Brady were or will be better, and maybe they’re right, but for my money I’ll take Brett every time.