The Blog Squad

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

He Might Come Running Back

After years of contemplating retirement, Brett Favre will finally commit to it.

The decision surprised many fans, especially in Green Bay where Favre played 17 seasons. He informed Packers coach Mike McCarthy of the retirement during a telephone call Monday night.

“I know I can still play, but it’s like I told my wife, I’m just tired mentally. I’m just tired,” Favre said in a voicemail to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

Unlike many of the great quarterbacks of his generation, Favre can walk away from the game saying he can still compete. Multiple concussions forced Dallas’ Troy Aikman, Buffalo’s Jim Kelly and San Francisco’s Steve Young out of the game. Various significant injuries made the retirement decision easier for Dan Marino in 2000.

The 38-year-old Favre has started an NFL record 253 consecutive games at quarterback. He owns league records for passing touchdowns (442), passing yards (61,655), completions (5,377), attempts (8,758), interceptions (288) and games with at least three TDs (63). His 160-93 regular season record is the most wins for a quarterback.

Favre and the Packers lost to the eventual Super Bowl winners, the New York Giants, last year in the NFC Championship Game. The gunslinging QB, known for his grit, heart and cannon arm, had one of his best seasons ever.

Until today, the prevailing thought was that Favre definitely would return and pursue another Super Bowl.

“If I felt like coming back — and Deanna [Favre’s wife] and I talked about this — the only way for me to be successful would be to win a Super Bowl,” Favre told ESPN. “To go to the Super Bowl and lose would almost be worse than anything else. Anything less than a Super Bowl win would be unsuccessful.”

But Aikman is quoted saying he thinks Favre will miss the game too much.

“As the season gets closer, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he changes his mind,” Aikman said.

I wouldn’t either.

None of us will ever know what it’s like to be a professional NFL quarterback, especially one of Favre’s caliber. But it must be a blessed feeling. I doubt these great quarterbacks can adequately describe their charmed existence.

What is it like to throw a ball 50 yards into the hands of a streaking receiver as 90,000 fans roar? What is it like to run off the field with raised ball in victory, knowing you have just captured a prize that is the source of happiness for millions of people? What is it like to have the way you play the game and the character you show imitated by others in all facets of their life?

I can’t imagine another endeavor that could compare in terms of exhilaration, emotion and effect.

Favre can still fulfill more dreams, even now in the bonus time of his career. Aikman, Kelly, Young and Marino could not. And if these great quarterbacks were given Favre’s option, their past decision would dictate they would play until they were carried off with their legs dragging behind them.

John Elway, another hall-of-fame quarterback from this era, came back twice and won back-to-back Super Bowls. He hobbled both those seasons.

So it is a little disheartening, just a tiny bit, that Favre, this great warrior who has not missed a game in more than 15 seasons, chooses to walk away with gas left in the tank.

To me, when an athlete is blessed with so much and has received so much, a debt must be paid. And that payment is to play until the very end. And that end is when the body begs for mercy.

Favre will be missed — if indeed he never returns. But it’s likely he’ll miss the game more.

OUT AT HOME: We were watching Intervention the other day. The show is about people with addictions. My wife turned to my 2-year-old daughter and said, “Don’t do drugs!” The mama then asked the youngster if she heard the message. My daughter nodded and replied, “Don’t do dragons!”

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Um. I don’t blame the field reporter at the recent Los Angeles Marathon for not having a reply.


At Thu Mar 06, 03:17:00 AM EST, Anonymous Dennis Harter said...

I can't believe that the debt he owes us includes ending up like most NFL players, unable to walk properly, there bodies hobbled by staying too long in the punishment that is the NFL.

He's answered so many dreams. Let the man walk away with gas in the tank. He's going to appreciate that gas when his body starts to ache.


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