Brett Favre: The Hero Who Lost His Way
Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers
There are three things synonymous with my home state of Wisconsin, cheese, beer and Brett Favre. Brett Favre was an absolute hero to Wisconsinites throughout the course of his 16-year career with the Green Bay Packers, where he won three MVP awards, one Super Bowl and set dozens of NFL records from the quarterback position.
He was a living legend in the state as he almost single-handedly put Green Bay back on the map after a nearly 30-year hiatus from relevance. Brett Favre appeared to have an innocent and fun-loving personality off the field and the fire of a fierce competitor on game day, while providing entertaining and emotional memories that will likely last a lifetime. He was loved by almost everyone in the state, football fan or not, and revered by opposing defenses and coaches.
Brett Favre was different from any other star because Brett Favre was our star. But, all that changed in early 2008 when Brett Favre retired, unretired and then drew a line in the sand between himself and the Green Bay Packers; A line that would mark his downfall and send his reputation in Wisconsin and sports into a spiral.
Brett Favre in Green Bay
Brett Favre "Retires"
In March of 2008, the world watched the Brett Favre press conference where he tearfully announced his retirement from the Green Bay Packers and NFL football. It was a sad and somber day in Wisconsin, but most people quickly came to terms and prepared to root for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in 2008.
It wasn’t until late in the summer at the eve of training camp that rumblings started to surface of a potential return to football for the former gunslinger. Green Bay Packer fans were torn. Of course most wanted to see Brett Favre, their hero, return, while many felt that the team had made a commitment to Aaron Rodgers and could no longer be held back by the indecision that plagued Brett Favre for the past four to five off-seasons.
Eventually, the Green Bay Packer front office and coaching staff determined that Brett Favre would be allowed to come back if he were willing to compete for the starting quarterback job. The offer was refused with apparent disgust from Favre. His refusal would lead to the team trading Brett Favre to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick.
Brett Favre Retirement News Conference - 2008
Brett Favre in New York
Brett Favre and the New York Jets
Immediately after the trade, Brett Favre news crowded the pages of the sports section and screens of televisions. A war of words broke out between Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers with Favre feeling betrayed and disrespected by the team and General Manager Ted Thompson.
He had asked for a trade to the Minnesota Vikings where he felt he could compete for a Super Bowl, but understandably, the Green Bay Packers did not want him to play in the NFC North. Upon news of hearing Favre’s interest in the Vikings, things got ugly in Wisconsin. Many fans wished that Brett Favre would have just stayed retired, while others began to turn on Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers. Favre did not retire though; he played out 2008 with the New York Jets and had a so-so, unmemorable season, failing to miss the playoffs by throwing a game-deciding interception on the final game of the year, much like he had in 2007.
The Green Bay Packers went 8-8 that season and Aaron Rodgers emerged as a young star in the NFL. Brett Favre would once again retire shortly after the season, meaning that hopefully the saga would come to end, however, things only got worse.
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Brett Favre in Minnesota
Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings
Once training camp appeared on the horizon, news of Brett Favre coming out of retirement once again began to appear in the media.
This time, Brett Favre was determined to join the Minnesota Vikings and there was no one holding him back. On the opening day of the 2009 NFL season, Brett Favre was wearing Vikings purple, and it was a sickening sight for all in the state of Wisconsin. In early November, he returned to Lambeau Field to a chorus of boos and shouts from angry Green Bay Packers fans.
However, Brett Favre would come out victorious and sweep the series while leading the Minnesota Vikings to the division championship and NFC Championship game, where once again, he would throw a late-game interception to seal his team’s fate. Of course, at the end of the season, Brett Favre indicated he would retire for a third time.
This time, Brett Favre did not officially retire, but once again waited until late into the preseason schedule to join the Minnesota Vikings due to a bum ankle that required surgery late in the off-season. Around the same time, internet rumors began to swirl around involving sexually inappropriate text messages and voice mails sent by Brett Favre to a Jets sideline reporter, Jen Sterger, during his time with the team. Rumors or not, any Brett Favre news is news in sports today, and these reports showcased Favre in a spotlight the athlete had been able to avoid for nearly two decades.
Now almost half way through the 2010 season, Brett Favre looks like a shell of his former self. The Minnesota Vikings have a dismal 2-4 record and Favre is falling short of his brilliant 2009 performance having already thrown 10 interceptions as compared to 7 throughout all of last season.
The rumors have continued to gain steam indicating possible sexual harassment on the part of Brett Favre that could lead to a suspension from the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. In a
Sunday night loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, the first defeat by his former team, he suffered a fractured ankle to complement his already injured shoulder and throwing elbow. As his team walked off the field in defeat, Favre slowly limped through the mob of reporters and former teammates as his less-than triumphant exit from his former home was met with boos and disdain.
Then, on December 13th, 2010, the unthinkable happened. After 297 consecutive games starting at QB, Brett Favre was on the sideline when his team took the field on a Monday Night Game against the New York Giants.
Everything great about Brett Favre was gone.
Brett Favre is no longer a hero in the state of Wisconsin. While the memories of his time with the Green Bay Packers will not be forgotten, it is unlikely that the pedestal on which he took residence during his years with the Packers will ever reach the same heights again.
He is no longer seen as role model, but rather an egotistical drama queen hell bent on pursuing his own selfish needs and desires, despite what it might mean to a team, state or the moral laws of marriage, society and the workplace. How quickly the mighty can fall.
The Future for Brett Favre
We live in a forgiving country, and Wisconsin is no different. Once the dust of the 2010 season and the potential law suit settles, Brett Favre will likely officially retire from NFL football once and for all. Time heals all wounds, even one’s such as this that have hit the heart of so many avid Green Bay Packers fans.
Once Brett Favre is gone from the game, people will be able to reflect on the good times without having to view the sad state of current affairs. Hopefully the Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson and the state of Wisconsin will welcome their prodigal son back with open arms and the past three years will be nothing more than a footnote in the story of an otherwise fun and fantastic Hall-of-Fame NFL career. After all, not all stories have heroes, but the good ones have happy endings.