As the intonations of another stellar season fade into our memories, we're suddenly aware that they were the ebbing bars of a coda to a symphonic career.
Brett Favre reported on Tuesday that he will retire. He is scheduled to address the media in a press conference (live on Packers.com) at 11 a.m. Thursday at Lambeau Field.
Favre's legacy among Packer fans is dichotomous. He's been both earthy and aloof; the Wrangler-pluggin' plowboy from down home, and a guy who always seemed outside arm's reach of the community that worshiped him. He's concocted plays of the breathtaking variety, for better and for worse. For every last-gasp touchdown to snare a victory from the jaws of defeat, there was an inexplicable interception that left even his most adamant supporters scratching their heads.
Favre walks away from the NFL as its all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, passes attempted and completed, interceptions, and in both victories and consecutive starts by a quarterback. (He started 275 consecutive games, including playoffs; next on the list is 31-year-old Peyton Manning at 160.) Popular both among sportswriters and his fellow players, Favre was voted All Pro seven times and to the Pro Bowl nine times, respectively.
For me, Favre represents the last tether to an era when I came of age along with my hometown team, as the 1990s saw the Packers rise from the NFL's septic tank. Favre was the subject of the first significant move by newly hired GM Ron Wolf, who went on to add Reggie White as a free agent a year later, nudging the Packers down the road to immortality. The '90s was a heady era for a young guy such as myself, watching his childhood team rack up not just victories, but winning seasons! This from a team that did better with its three-game strike replacement players in 1987 than with its regulars, and that had gone 9-24 at home from 1986 to the point that Favre took over under center in 1992. All of a sudden people were talking about a Super Bowl? For us?
Aaron Rodgers, who will slide in for Favre, could become a fine quarterback. He will be no Favre, which could be a mixed blessing for the fourth-year Cal product. He insists on wearing Lynn Dickey's No. 12, so he'll have some karmic issues to overcome right off the bat; especially if his early injury bug has been any indication. But finally the Packers, the youngest team in the NFL, have a quarterback who can grow right along with the guys who've been starting for a couple of years now. I think the fans will give Rodgers plenty of slack; it's the players who'll need to be more forgiving. Say what you will about Favre, but he was no first-year starter. And that's what the starters will have to keep in mind when Rodgers inevitably struggles. Obviously, only time will tell.
But in bidding farewell to Favre, I'll feel only the pang of hoping I appreciated what I had as a fan. But I'll shed no tears into my keyboard and will leave the slobbering Maddenesque tributes to others across the Internets. I won't refer to him as a "friend" or deify him like I fear many in Packerland will. I'll simply thank him for his effort, and for a job well done. Somehow, I think that's all he'd want.
Obligatory Favre tribute:
Bob McGinn, Journal-Sentinel: Favre knows it's time for change
Ray Ratto, San Francisco Chronicle: Best ever? Maybe best highlight
Bob DiCesare, The Buffalo News: Still time to unretire
Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: Rides off into the sunset
Tom Sorensen, Charlotte Observer: Fearless Favre will be missed
Bill Plaschke, LA Times: Everyman's QB
Michael Wilbon, Washington Post: Favre's star power
Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News: Makes the right call
John Romano, St. Petersburg Times: Retirement leaves NFL duller
Judy Battista, New York Times: Goodbye on his own terms
Joe Posnanski, Kansas City Star: Throwback to old-time QBs
Barry Horn, Dallas Morning News: Favre would be a first-string broadcaster
Bob Wolfley, Journal-Sentinel: Stay out of the broadcast booth
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe: Favre barely among top 10
Gene Frenette, Florida Times Union: Please don't audible and return
Randy Galloway, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Retirement hardest transition for QB
The Day that Football Died - Annette Summersett
Favre era begins: comeback vs. Cin 9/20/92
On-field interview from Cincy game
Interview with Larry McCarren PRIOR to Cincy game
Favre's first start: Pitt-GB highlights, 9/27/92 (ESPN's Chris Berman "not trying to start any quarterback controversy")
Favre-Freeman beats Vikings in OT 11/6/00
Favre-Jennings beats Broncos in OT, 10/29/07
Favre goes 4-0 vs. Raiders, 12/9/07
Favre's last playoff win, vs. Seahawks, 1/12/08
NFL Network tribute, 3/6/08 (Steve Mariucci)
NFL Network 'Total Access' interview, 2/8/08 (Deion Sanders, Mariucci)
Farewell press conference, 3/6/08 (Yahoo version; Opening remarks, why he retired, on his legacy, on Aaron Rodgers, on what's next)