This may not be a particularly popular post with people, but I'll condition it with the following disclaimer - I'm not a football fanatic by any means. Yes, I enjoy the game, and I will make an effort to watch the Packers whenever I have the opportunity, but I can't quote statistics, records, or players at will. I follow the game, but I'm not obsessed with the game, so take this entry with a grain of salt (or two).
So this past Sunday, I wandered into the local watering hole to watch the Vikings take on the Saints. I found an empty spot at the bar, ordered a Lite, munched on some popcorn, and settled in for what would prove to be a great contest between two impressive teams.
What immediately struck me was the polarity of the crowd that had gathered - there was a clear division of "fans" - those that supported Brett Favre, and those that hated his guts. At first, it was amusing. But, as the game went on, the hatred (and often, pure rage) toward Brett became unsettling.
People were literally screaming things like, "Break that bastard's legs!" I even heard one older lady exclaim, "Beat the s*#t out of that a--!!!!!" My goodness! I've disliked players in my day, but I've never wished serious injury on someone. In fact, when Brett went down with his ankle injury, the place erupted - people were high-fiving each other, and cheering like someone had just won the Superbowl itself.
Call me crazy, but I'm going to side with Brett in favor of his decision to go to Minnesota. Did he waver and waffle on his retirement decision? Yes. Did he give Green Bay a fair shake when it came to negotiating his last few years? Maybe - we'll never really know... only a handful of people really know how that played out. Should he have retired as a Packer and skipped the past two years? Based on his last season, I'd say no. He demonstrated that he's still got some magic in that 'ole arm of his.
I can't, for the life of me, figure out why so many people literally hate the guy, though. It's as if the sixteen years that he spent with Green Bay didn't mean a single thing. Nevermind that he took the Packers to a Superbowl, or countless playoff games. Nevermind that he helped revive the franchise, and likely played a huge role in the remodel of Lambeau Field. I guess none of that matters, for whatever reason... "Thanks for nothing," seems to be the general sentiment.
You can't argue that the guy was one of the game's elite. Easily a top-three or top-five quarterback, for sure. A true asset to the game and the team. So, when the time came to give him a little extra attention, which should've been well-deserved, things fell apart. Accusations were made, threats, and so on... and eventually, 'ole #4 went to New York.
Fans ridiculed him for leaving; they said he should've retired. And, as we saw during that horrible season in New York, the fans may have been right. But, Brett apparently knew more than we did - that he still had some game left in him - so, he moved to Minnesota. And thanks to a decent line, a competent receiving core, and a strong diversion option (#28 - Adrian Peterson), Brett had an amazing season in 2009. Could you fault Seabiscuit for wanting to run a few more races if he knew his legs were strong?
Rather than take a step back and admit, "Wow, Brett's still got it - we probably should've kept him around," we say things like, "Break his legs!" Nice.
So, for what it's worth... I'm glad that Brett did as well as he did. I'm amazed that he took the beating he did against the Saints (bruised wrists, bruised ankles, and a head injury) and still had a great game. I'm happy to know that he was "our man" for 16 years. And I'm disappointed that "our fans" have such short and spiteful memories.
Good luck to you, Brett - if you've got another season in you, good 'on ya. If not, thanks for everything and happy trails. I honestly wish we would've fed you a little extra rather than rushing you out to pasture.