There’s a video clip from late in the 1977 NFL season that’s burned into my mind: a short clip of Joe Namath, wearing the L-A Rams uniform, faking a pass and stumbling on those ruined knees and circling toward the end zone from the 2-yard line. One hand is clutching the ball to his chest for dear life; the other is outstretched toward a 300-pound defensive lineman, and the expression on his face clearly says “oh, dear God, please don’t tackle me”.
That’s NOT how I want to remember Brett Favre.
Namath’s role with the (then) L-A Rams was quickly forgotten; he rose to fame as Broadway Joe of the New York Jets. Favre’s career is tied as closely to Green Bay as Namath’s was to New York, although Brett just finished the best season of his career, statistically-speaking.
But, as former Vikes coach Bud Grant loved to say, “statistics are for losers”.
The Saints defense really put the hammer down on Favre Sunday night. Monday and Tuesday all sorts of “pants on the ground” photos went ‘round the internet and circulated through the social media by Favre-haters, illustrating what a 40-year-old man looks like when he’s been put through the wringer by guys about half his age and nearly twice his weight.
There was a lot of “see, Vikes fans - that’s what it’s like” from Packers fans, referring to Brett’s last pass - which he freely admitted after the game was a mistake; that if he had it to do over, he’d have run the ball a few yards to give Longwell (another former Packer) a chance to beat the Saints.
Many of those of us who are Packers fans since birth, raised in the church of St. Vincent of Lambeau, have very mixed feelings about Favre. It was the childlike enthusiasm for the game that made us love him on the field; his childlike, self-centered and tearfully indulgent retirement/non-retirement news conferences that frustrated us; and his childlike selfishness late last summer when he put on that purple uniform that enraged us.
I really hope that he retires now. He’s got nothing left to prove. He beat the Packers twice, proved that he’s still “got it”, and took his team to within one step of the Super Bowl. He deserves to live the life of a retired superstar, a legend like Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Don Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, and the other greatest QB’s of all time.
He also proved -hopefully to himself, as well as to us - that if any given team decides to take him out of the game and end his career (see: Lawrence Taylor v. Joe Theismann, 11/18/85, “The Hit That No One Who Saw It Can Ever Forget”), he’ll limp into the Hall of Fame. Literally.
Next year would very likely be “one season too many”.
Packers fans, let the healing begin.