Dear Packer fans everywhere,
Sometime between today, two days after our once-great quarterback was crushed by a Patriots defensive tackle and sent to the locker room to get stitches, and next week when Favre trudges back onto the field one more time, take at least a minute to feel sorry for the man.
(Pause for outraged exclamation and protest.)
I know. I was there for each one of his unretirements. I argued during the summer of 2008 that he was making himself bigger than the team, when half of Packer Nation was burning Ted Thompson in effigy for daring to trade him away. I cheered as loudly as anyone when he threw the fatal pick at the end of the NFC Championship game, and I took a great deal of satisfaction from watching him lose the game for the Vikings two weeks ago. I’ve defended him before in this space against Deadspin’s charges, which are inching closer and closer towards being substantiated, but I do not consider myself a Favre apologist. I’ve castigated him enough over the past few years for that to be an untruth.
And I know that he brought all this on himself. I know that he took a fat contract from the Vikings to come back for another year, how it took three Vikings flying down to Mississippi to beg him to return, and how Favre alone is the reason why he’s still on the football field, taking these massive hits and losing game after game.
But he doesn’t deserve this.
The image of Favre lying on his side, wincing and huddling in pain as a Vikings tagalong held a towel up to his bleeding chin as the motorized cart sped towards the locker room, was one of the saddest things I’ve seen in professional football.
Regardless of what you believe Favre did or didn’t do for the Packers–and forget the revisionist history, he was the biggest reason why we’ve been as successful as we have over 16 of the last 20 years–he will go down in football history as one of the all-time great quarterbacks, if not the all-time great players. What endeared him to us Packers fans and to all of America, his exuberance, his play, his heart and guts and courage on the field, make him so. Such a player, who we have been privileged to see as fans for almost as long as I’ve been alive, should not go out like this, battered and broken and still coming back for more.