Packer legend Favre from done

first_imgBefore we get into the real business of the column today, I figured I would make a few comments on the Super Bowl. I was working and had no real burning desire to watch the game. But since it was on in the office, I monitored it somewhat.First, I watched just about every commercial during the third quarter because some chump was supposedly going to propose to his wife during one of them. Never happened. Even more disappointing were the commercials themselves. From all accounts, they stunk this year. Companies ran spots that had been out for a couple months, and there were not any real innovative ones that really stood out.Second, Rex Grossman sucks. I tried to think of a gentler way to put it, but there really is none. Personally, I would have voted “Sexy Rexy” Super Bowl MVP for what he did to help the Colts win. But that is neither here nor there. On a scale of one to 10, how much do Bears fans wish they had a more accomplished quarterback like, say, Brett Favre starting for them? Probably about 3,837 or more, but while we’re here…There are three different types of good news. There is the type that elicits a smile when you hear it, like “Congratulations, you got an A on the paper.” Then there is the good news that deserves a high five with a friend: “We just won the basketball ticket lottery.” The third variety of good news prompts Tiger Woods-esque fist-pumping response, seemingly forgetting you are in public as you nearly skip all the way down Charter Street.Not surprisingly, this sort of good news is always unexpected and doesn’t come around too often.Last Friday, like many of you, I received some certifiable Stage-Three good news.Answering the phone having just left class, I heard my roommate John, “Coming back for his 17th season, Brett Favre.”There may very well never have been eight words that I have been happier to hear.Brett coming back instantly improved the Packers’ chances of being a playoff contending team next season, given they have any sort of productive offseason. General manager Ted Thompson has more salary cap space than most teams in the league and also the 16th overall pick in the draft. Rumors circulating that Randy Moss may be on the move to Green Bay — as good or bad as you believe such a move to be — are a sign this will not be a quiet offseason in Titletown.Aside from offseason acquisitions, the Packers are without a doubt a better team with him under center than if Aaron Rodgers was. The offensive line improved as last season went on, as did the defense.Undoubtedly there are some — my colleague Mr. McGrath, Bears and Vikings fans, and people who enjoy kicking kittens, to name a few — for whom the announcement was not welcome. Those types of people are cynical of his return, saying Brett’s just doing it for fame or fortune.While he will make a boatload of money (an estimated $11 million) and set many records (keep in mind not all of which will be positive, as Favre is only four interceptions away from setting that all-time mark), I firmly believe neither of those reasons are what convinced him to come back. Call me naive (as many people probably will), but I really believe all Brett cares about is going out there, playing football and having fun. Watch him play 230-some odd times and tell me otherwise.Which brings us to the consecutive games streak. For those sports fans who live under a rock, Brett has started 238 consecutive games dating back to 1992. That streak is at the core of the bond fans feel toward Favre. The bond that outside observers find difficult to understand. How fans’ feelings toward him ebb and flow with every throw, yet still always feel so attached to a football player who — at this point in his career — is not as good as he once was. After all, he is just a football player, right?Not as far as I am concerned.Maybe my cousin — who by her own admission follows football about as closely as I follow opera — explained it best.”It’s almost like he’s a part of the family,” she said. “He was that one family member who was never able to make it to the family functions, but he was always a part of them because everyone still talked about him.”As lame and ridiculous as that sounds, it is true. And I don’t think my family and I are the only ones with that sort of experience.Chew on this: Brett has started every game for the Packers since I was five. Out of all those games (237 in the regular season) I may have missed a handful or so. Packer fans of my age and I grew up with Brett as he grew off the field from a crazy young kid to a graying father. He still tends to play like a big kid, which is part of what endears him to fans. I have seen Brett play more often than I have my own brother, as sad as that may sound. In that sense he has been something of a long-lost relative.But it is not the streak alone that endears Brett to Packer fans. Moreover it is the fact that he is a real, genuine person. In an era of sports where athletes try to hide as much of their private lives as possible from the public, Brett’s has, for the most part, unfolded before the state of Wisconsin.Some critics bring up Favre’s previous addiction to painkillers as some sort of slam against him, as proof he is not a good person. In reality, almost everyone knows someone who has battled an addiction of some sort. But Brett stood up and admitted his fault like a man, admitted he had a problem before an entire state. He cleaned up his life for the betterment of his own family and his career.Then, in 2003, Brett played his signature game, the game by which I will forever remember him. Playing the day after his father died, Brett played a magical game, throwing for 300 yards and completing every pass he threw in the first half on Monday Night Football against Oakland. The nation saw a vulnerable iron man. And what I will always remember most about that game is that I watched it with my own dad.Over the next few years, Brett has suffered through a myriad of other personal hardships. His wife, Deanna, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. His brother-in-law was killed in an ATV accident that same year. His Mississippi home was damaged during Hurricane Katrina.All those events with which people can identify, all those events make him human in ways most athletes aren’t. Over the years, Packers’ fans have seen enough of those moments to make Brett seem like part of the family.That’s why there will always be a seat for him at my family’s big kid table.Ben is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and Journalism. Share your thoughts about Brett with him at bvoelkel@badgerherald.comlast_img read more