A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Am Sad

After 16 years at the helm of my beloved Green Bay Packers, Brett Favre is retiring from football.


I knew this day was coming, and coming in the near future, but after last year I-- as well as nearly everyone else who cared even remotely about the topic-- thought that Brett would be back to make one more run at the Super Bowl. It just seemed like all the pieces were there-- good offensive line, emerging stable of talented receivers, a go-to running back, a very good to excellent defense that meant that the offense didn't have to score 30+ every game, a young, energetic and talented coaching staff.

It's as good a situation as imaginable for an aging Hall of Famer whose skills are still top notch and who wants to buff his legacy a little more and maybe get another ring.

So, naturally, Favre calls it quits.

Double sigh.

In many ways I really don't get it. He came back last year despite the team's struggles the two previous seasons (4-12 in '05 and 8-8 in '06) and there were a LOT more question marks in the last off-season than in this one. So why now?

But in some ways I do get it. Favre says that being "mentally tired" is a big factor in his decision and I can totally understand that. The NFL is a young man's sport and, by professional sports standards, Favre is old. Younger than me by about six months, but still old by the standards of his profession. And he looked old and tired on that miserable, -30 wind chill game against the Giants back in January.

Can't say that I blame him-- I went outside during half-time of that game just to see what it felt like and it was unbelievably horrendous. And I was outside for about five minutes. Favre was outside for 3+ hours and was getting hit by some massive, fast-moving gentlemen for much of that time. I imagine the turf at Lambeau felt like concrete.

So, that part I get. Much as I wish he would stick around for a year or two more, I understand the rationale. And though his last pass in the NFL will now be a game-ending interception, going out after the amazying 13-3 season the Pack put up last year is pretty darn close to the story book ending that John Elway had a decade ago. He went out on top-- and there is something to be said for that.

And thus begins the Aaron Rodgers era. I do not envy that young man-- trying to follow a legend cannot be an easy thing. But I've liked what I saw of Rodgers last year (which, admittedly wasn't much since Favre misses so few plays). If he can stay healthy I think he can be a good QB. Probably not a Hall of Famer or even a Pro-bowler, but at least average and maybe better than... if he can stay healthy.

We'll see.

In the meantime I must echo a sentiment that is being expressed all over Cheeseland today:

Thanks Brett. You occasionally drove us crazy, but you were always fun to watch, you played the game with the enthusiasm and almost child-like giddiness that is so often lacking these days, and you helped restore glory and tradition to Titletown, USA.

It's been a fantastic sixteen years. You'll be missed.


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