I remember the day last spring when Brett Favre retired. My eight year old heard it first and came to tell me. Two days later, we watched his press conference together on ESPN and then carefully saved the following week’s Sports Illustrated with Brett on the cover, crying.
We are not so much Green Bay Packers fans as we are Brett Favre fans. I have always loved to watch the guy play. And I love watching my sons pretend to be Brett. Adam and Austin will sometimes take turns passing the Nerf football in our backyard—”Watch me, Daddy … I’m Brett Favre!” I always laugh as they made that “off the back foot—off balance” throw for which one of our heroes has become known.
For some reason, the day that Brett retired, I mentioned to Polly, my wife, “I hope he stays retired …”
“Why would you say that?” she asked.
“I just hope—for him,” I responded, “that he has a ‘decided heart’ about this. I hope he stays retired. He has an enormous legacy and huge good will. As long as he stays retired.”
I’ve never met Brett, but like you, I feel like I know him. Obviously though, we don’t and yet he is a part of our lives. We have watched him succeed and fail from the comfort of our recliners. We grieved with him as he played a game the night his father died and prayed for his family as Deanna, his wife, battled cancer.
Last March, when he retired, it was the most glorious ending of a superstar’s career we have seen in a generation. He shed tears. So did we. He said that he wished it could last forever. So did we. He said it was over … and yet now he is talking of making a comeback. And playing for another team???
Brett, please, no! We know you want to play. We know you still can. But not like this!
This reminds me of my granddaddy. He was awesome and I loved him dearly until his death when I was fourteen. Unfortunately, my wonderful memories of him for the past 35 years have been salted with the last thing I saw: my granddaddy in a casket. As many great memories as I have of this terrific man, that specific mental image—one that is distasteful and not a true representation of him—still manages to bore itself to the surface. As much as I fight against that memory, it is simply too hard to erase.
And through the years, some of our greatest sports heroes have done the same thing to our memories of them. We didn’t need to experience the horror of Joe Namath (a Jet) limping around in a Rams uniform or Johnny Unitas (a Colt) with the Charger lightning bolt on his helmet instead of a horseshoe. Why did I even open my eyes to watch Emmit Smith (a Cowboy) as a Phoenix Cardinal? Joe Montana (a 49er) as a Chief was sacrilegious and no matter what anybody says, Kenny Stabler is a Raider. But (God help us all) he ended his career as a Saint.
So Brett, it is because we love you that we urge you to reconsider this “open casket retirement”. Please don’t come back. You are a Packer … maybe the greatest of all time and our memories of the past 17 seasons need no encore. We want to remember you the way you deserve to be remembered.