I imagine there's news happening in other parts of the world—you've got your presidential elections, your wars, your assassinations of world leaders and so forth. But it's all weak coffee here in Wisconsin compared to the retirement of Brett Favre (pronounced farv), quarterback and team leader of the Green Bay Packers and local hero nonpareil. The TV stations are wall-to-wall with it, complete with "Farewell to Favre" graphics and sad, slow music.
You know how they get when they've shown you all the footage and told you everything you need to know three times, but there's a press conference at 4:00 and they just don't see any reason to cut away. They're just determined to ride with it. They don't care how thin the coverage gets.
So I just listened to the tape of a phone call with Jerry Kramer, telling the story of his own retirement. "I didn't want to say I had slowed down," Jerry related, "so I said, 'I've changed my stride.' And my friends said, 'yeah, and you've slowed down, too.'" I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of that sort of thing on the air up here over the next few days. The whole State has been dreading this inevitable day for a long, long time.
Favre is the League’s all-time leader in passing yards (61,655 yards), completions (5,377), touchdown passes (442), and career wins (160). He has five seasons of 4,000+ yards and eight seasons with 30 or more touchdowns. He's the only consecutive three-time MVP in League history, and a nine-time Pro Bowler. He won our only Super Bowl since the Vince Lombardi era and had one of his best years last year, winning the Division with a 13-3 record and making it to the NFC title game before running into the best defense I've personally ever seen the Packers face.
Almost no matter what else happened, you always knew that something Brett would do on any given weekend would surprise the hell out of you and bring a great big smile to your face. The guy has consistently been more fun to watch than any other athlete I can think of. The 2007 campaign was fun squared: fun with wins; fun with records falling nearly weekly.
And speaking of records—do you happen to remember where you were and what you were doing in late 1992? I've got a son in high school who wasn't born the last time somebody other than Brett Favre started at quarterback for the Packers. Favre hasn't missed a start since he came on in relief of Don Majkowski in September 1992. We all like Aaron Rogers, the heir apparent, but the Opener later this year is going to seem just plain weird.
Brett's an irrepressible joker, constantly teasing his teammates and kidding everybody around him, cracking wise, and playing an endless stream of practical jokes like a high-spirited teenager. He seems awkward (even oddly depressive) when he tries to be serious at press conferences. Words are not his thing, and eloquent he's not. But his explanation, boiled down, is expressive enough: "I'm just tired," he says. And it's no wonder. He's earned some time off.
Later, man. It's been great big fun.