Sometimes They Are Heroes
This week Brett Favre announced his retirement after seventeen seasons as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. For years there have been calls for his retirement, but after one of the best seasons of his career, there were mostly tears.
There is little if anything to be added to the obituary of Favre’s career. His records, some of which are viewed as unbreakable in the physical modern game have all been recited repeatedly. His personality and personal courage have been well documented. His every-man nature endeared him to even those for whom the Packers were life-long rivals. Some of these characteristics are what made me a fan.
I remember the night he played just hours following his father’s death in an auto accident. It was one of the most exciting games and a game when he showed what a masterful quarterback he was. As I watched him play that night, I cried – overcome by the sheer grace and willpower and courage he displayed.
Favre made enough mistakes to be real and always entertaining. Sometimes, the miracle comeback came because of an errantly thrown ball earlier in the game. Whenever the Packers played – even in seasons when they were not particularly successful – they were always fun to watch.
The next season is still months away, but I’m already anticipating it with a mix of anxiety and excitement. It will be a challenge to see the green and yellow without automatically rooting for Favre, but I am looking forward to rooting for the next generation in Young and Romo.
With luck, one of them will resolve to take up Favre’s mantle and become the next foundation for the team and community. Favre was more than a player – he was a hero for to many and those are rare to find in sports today.
The last generation of players seems to be dominated by players going for the biggest payday who fly from team to team as the dollar signs grow. Many of those same players also took advantage of “advances” in medicine – some of which were not illegal at the time.
The only real difference between illegal and not legal at the time is a matter of ethics and character. Athletes who used performance enhancing drugs before each new one was banned knew they were doing wrong, but did it anyway because they could get away with it.
Brett Favre stayed with one team and has never been accused of using any performance enhancing drugs, but was very open about his addiction to pain killers following a series of injuries. He shared his struggle and became even more human for it.
So now I sit back and wait for the next great player who is both Clark Kent and Superman. Sometimes they are heroes.