This article was originally written January 15, 2007. In light of Brett Favre's retirement from the Green Bay Packers we felt it was appropriate to run again.
Brett, thank you, we'll miss you as much as we cherish you, in an alive, not dead yet way. Deanna, Brittany and Breleigh, thanks for sharing him with us.
This article orginially ran as "Brett Favre An All-time Great: Let Us Not Count The Ways Just Yet."
A couple of springs ago, I was killing time before a Brewer’s spring training game at a casino in Arizona (and of course breaking even). I had beaten up on a particular player during a friendly 3-6 limit hold’em game when that player started making fun of the Packers- he had noticed the belt to chin green and gold “G” on my black t-shirt somehow. He was about that observant in his card playing as well, so I guess I knew where he was going to go with his football chatter. He laid into Brett Favre- what a surprise.
Somehow he thought that would throw me off my game, and as much of a Brett Favre fan as I am, he didn’t know that I have long since gotten over the twenty or so percent of football observers who just don’t have a clue about anything football or even sports related (was I light on that percentage). He told me how vastly over-rated Brett Favre was and how virtually every QB in the NFL was better, including John Kitna, Michael Vick and Jake Plummer (good players no doubt, but come on). At Jake Plummer I just had to laugh at him, tell him how funny a guy he was and let him know that he was about to lose some more money.
I didn’t bother to give that guy many of the thousand or so statistical reasons why Brett Favre is an All-time Great player. I know most of those stats, including the winning percentage, touchdowns, touchdown to interception ratio, completions, yards, etc. etc. etc… You see, statistics don’t make great players that we remember; great players make statistics that we remember. Statistics are like trees, the types of stats let you know that you are in a particular realm of performance, like the type of tree lets you know what kind of forest you are in. All the numbers can let us know is that Favre is somewhere in the forest of greatness.
What I mostly talked to this card competitor about was Brett Favre, the guy. How Favre in so many ways is just somebody who could be your neighbor- the rich one- but your neighbor nonetheless. A guy who you’d be happy to let into your house when he knocked, or heck, even if he just strolled in. I told him about how Favre had, while in the public eye, dealt with some pretty harsh life realities. Favre dealt with work, fame, pressure and most importantly family issues, with a class and nature that was, in an era of T.O.s and Leons, refreshing at least, and admirable to most. His trials and tribulations were not that different from many of ours, other than he was under the watchful eye of millions of people when he dealt with his. No, Favre will never need to do a reality TV show, he’s already done it.
I’m not going to canonize the guy; he did fall to some temptations. A dependency problem was the one our erstwhile knucklehead card competitor brought up, which I pointed out was somewhat understandable due to the level of physical stress and pain he experienced, but was yes, still a fall. Here’s where I always get confused. People who want to argue that Favre isn’t the player he’s cracked up to be, always seem to come back to non-football arguments. I’m a little tired of it, but really, I guess it is what it is- negative people being negative people. I have yet to see one of those people driving in anything particularly nice or living somewhere fantastic or hear them talk about how lucky they are to have good friends or how great their family life is- the way Brett does. So, I can only think there is some envy going on. I guess some envy is understandable though. I envy Brett for being better looking then me, a better athlete, making a ton of money, and probably being better spoken.
Brett Favre, like all people, I’m sure has his faults. I don’t really know what his faults are, so I don’t bring those things up. I have seen Favre be human in the face of personal and professional troubles and adversity. I have seen him withstand pain. I have seen him donate time and money to people he did not know. I wonder how many “non-likers” of Favre can say they have given like Brett Favre has, even on a relative level?
I have also seen Brett Favre play a game with a level of desire and performance that really epitomizes what sport is supposed to be about and can be; only Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods in my lifetime appear to be on the same level. I have seen a guy who has performed near the top of the NFL for a period longer than all but a few players in any sport ever. What I have heard from player after player after player, coach after coach, experienced commentator after experienced commentator, and really almost unanimously by people who are more knowledgeable about football than I even dream to be, is that Brett Favre is one of the ten or so Greatest Players Of All-time. No exceptions, no caveats.
Anyway, back to my card game, because I know it’s on your mind. On my last hand before leaving for the Brewer’s game, as the naysayer was smilingly calling my cap raise of six more dollars then proudly flipping over his two pair, I reflected on how happy I was to have been witness to all of Brett Favre’s career to this point. Then I flipped over my straight, took the pot money and smiled back at my friendly rival. I’m not sure if I convinced that guy of Favre’s stature as a football player or normalcy as a person. I suspect he’s really a Favre fan. How can you not be? I think he’s just not a fan of losing at cards and probably either a Cardinals, Bears, Vikings or Lions fan. When I did leave that day, four of the other players, none from Wisconsin, did take the time to say that they too were fans of Brett Favre for similar reasons as I am. Plenty of man-crushes to go around as it turned out.
Right now, I can only think of two things before I click save and send. I hope Brett knocks on the door one, or maybe two, more times as a player. And more importantly, regardless of if I see him play again: Thanks Brett.