Nov. 15, 2010
His hair begins to turn silver and gray; his face shows signs of youth slipping away, and middle age begins shadowing over his once towering frame. His injuries don’t heal quickly like they did 10 years ago; his energy has slowed down dramatically and on the surface he just isn’t as good as he once was.
Yet through all the physical signs, his body screams incessantly telling him it’s time to let the life of football go, he laces up his cleats, throws on his pads, drapes the number four purple jersey upon his torso like a mythological god, and pops his helmet on mirroring that of an ancient warrior. This is all he has known for the last 30 years of his life; the game of football is what he will be remembered for, and his legacy will go down as one of the best to ever play the game.
He’s the Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen of my generation: An American icon of hope; a raw, picture perfect symbol of built-to-last toughness and a purity of the human soul and human condition that no matter what life has dealt you or what you are faced with, you suit up, show up and get to work.
In 2003, just one day after his father passed away, he took the field against the Oakland Raiders when some told him to take a break and grieve. He grieved alright. He stripped away the multi-million dollar contract, the thousands of supportive fans, the Monday Night Football showdown, the cameras, the spotlight and the attention and took the field knowing his dad, who saw him play in every game from fifth grade to the pros, was watching him; was with him and would always love him.
He went out and played one of the best games of his career, throwing for 399 yards and four touchdowns, leading his team to a 41-7 victory. He dedicated the game to his father and added another fairytale ending that could only be written in a Shakespearean dramatic play to his long list of accomplishments. I remember tearing up watching the postgame interview and hearing him almost give the picture perfect eulogy of his father on national television after a game he went out and just played for his dad.
Brett Favre made it official Nov. 11 to Steve Mariucci of The NFL Network — he officially will not return for the 2011 season. After the last few years of riding the fence whether to come back or retire, this year will be his last. What’s left of this season will be the final chapter of Favre’s career, and no matter what the case may be, I guarantee he continues to play every game like he has for the last 19 years. He’s Iron Man Brett.
Despite the lewd text message scandal weighing over him with some bimbo from the past, football fans, sports fans and all those in between need to watch him play the rest of the season. Whether or not the Vikings make the playoffs, much less win another couple of games, we will be on the brink of watching one of the most competitive, toughest and honest athletes begin his descent into the sunset after 20 seasons in the NFL. We will still get to see him make a few more touchdown passes and great throws as an old dog and at the same time, see him pump his fists, hug his teammates and have that childish grin he always displays of hope, excitement and faith.
When someone’s life is defined by a single moment, they change the concept of time forever.
Favre will triumphantly experience this the moment he takes his helmet off after the Vikings final game of the season; the world will watch a man walk across the field, appearing to walk gracefully across a body of water, where he will exchange words to fellow and opposing teammates alike, and in that brief two minutes the world will witness the end of an era. He is the last of his kind; there will never be another high-caliber player like him.
Favre has been America’s quarterback; he wears Wrangler jeans; he’s the kid from next door and he’s the “other” dude that swooped in to steal Mary away from Tucker, Dom, Healy and Ted in “There’s Something About Mary.” He’s a good man. He’s Brett Favre.