Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Hero Retires

The sky darkens, the sun disappears, and the earth stops spinning for 4 long minutes.

Brett Favre has thought about, and even announced, retirement before. In fact it's kind of a guaranteed winter event. Will he or won't he? However this time I feel it's real. While I truly believe the man has at least two more solid years of good football left in him, I believe he is legitimately retiring this year. And even though it hurts my heart and pains my soul to see him go, I'm happy for him and I believe he is making the right choice. He'll be going out on top.

Favre is a legend. He is a true warrior. An iron man. Favre holds many records, having broken several this past season. But none speaks more highly of the warrior than his consecutive starts record. Favre has not missed an NFL start since September 27, 1992. That is 275 football games. 16 years. He has been battered, bruised, and bloodied and continually comes back for more. I remember watching games where he'd get hit and injured and think, "well that's it for Brett." But he'd get up, wince twice, and go back to business. I distinctly remember watching a game where he hit a player's helmet with the thumb of his throwing-arm hand on the followthrough of a particularly nasty pass. Favre was notorious for throwing the ball HARD. The camera panned to his thumb shortly after the injury and it looked like a gourd on a stick. It was swollen to about 3x its normal size and was bright red/purple. He went back into the game and played like a warrior. That injury bothered him the entire season but he sacked up and got it done.

I'll also never forget the game he played the morning after his father, Big Irv, passed away. I believe it was the greatest single performance by a professional athlete ever. Certainly a defining moment for Favre. He threw for four touchdowns in the first half and 399 total passing yards. There were specific plays that seemed to be divinely guided. Now I'm not silly enough to think that God has any interest in football, although he'd be a Packer fan if he had, and I don't think Big Irv was an "angel on the football field" throwing blocks and steadying the ball in flight. I do, however, believe that humans are capable of great things when inspired by an emotional event. The camera occasionally picked up Favre's tear-streaked face through his facemask. He finished the game, winning 41-7, and then went to his dad's funeral. Why did he play? Because Big Irv loved football, loved his son, and would have wanted him there. And I believe Brett felt his dad there with him in spirit. This video clip highlights that performance:

Today's NFL is full of a-holes. Players that do celebratory dances after making routine plays. Quarterbacks that kill dogs for fun. I am terrified that before long we will have exhausted our stock of true heroes. Role models for our children. When my sons are old enough to appreciate football I can only hope they can find someone that is hard-working and classy to idolize. Someone that plays the game because they just love it. And if that day comes, and our NFL is devoid of such character, I'll be able to tell my boys about #4. The one and only Brett Favre.

1 comment:

Talbot Family said...

You know as well as I do that I can't stand football. The sport is way too masculine for me. However, I was so very touched by your admiration for Brett Farve I found myself wearing Yellow and green the next day and throwing my socks into the drawer like they were a football. Sounds like he is a great role model for men young and old. I hate watching manly clips, but I must say this one did bring a tear to my eyes. I guess that I admire anyone who is able to influence the lives of others for the positive, no matter how masculine they are. Now where's a steak I'm hungry.