Brett Favre retired today from the Green Bay Packers. Only Packer fans can feel the overwhelming sense of emptiness that announcement brings. We have experienced the joy, and occasional anguish, of his play on the field for almost twenty years and letting that go is going to be difficult. His record setting career was a thrill to witness. There will never be another like him in my lifetime. Having wondered at the incredible show of skill and competitiveness that he brought to the football field, I can only wonder now how it will be to cheer for the Packers without number 4 leading them.
The biggest fear we all have now is that the Packers will embark on another 25 year slog through mediocrity like we endured through the 70's and 80's. Everyone loves a winner. Losing makes it hard to love a team when tolerance is the deepest emotion we can muster.
Favre made winning a habit and an expectation for Packer fans. Will we be able to embrace his successor if that player doesn't measure up to the standard we have become accustomed to? Maybe we expect too much from our gridiron heroes. After all, it's only a game. But Brett Favre made "only a game" into a celebration of playful athleticism. He brought back the fun we all experienced at some point in our llives when we were out in the neighborhood parks and empty lots, choosing up sides and then running and throwing and catching and breathing hard with the joyful exertion that "playing" football was for us. Favre didn't "work" football, he "played" football. It wasn't a job, it was playtime. He may be remembered as much for that boyish exuberance at playing a game than he will for all the records he set while on the field.
All the local television and radio stations are, of course, running exhaustive retrospectives today of his life and football career. It has all taken on the air of euolgy. Come on, people, the guy's not dead. He's just moving on to the next phase of his life. Now he'll be able to spend quality time mowing his lawn and working on his golf game. What could be better than that? So this fan just wants to say thanks, Brett, for everything. May the rest of your life be filled with the smell of newly cut grass and lots of birdies on the golf course.