Tuesday, March 04, 2008


The best way to sum up Brett Favre on the occasion of his retirement is that he was a natural phenomenon, like Niagara Falls or the Continental Divide.

The hayseed who seemed like he never had to be taught how to play the game and never had to learn is a classic American sports trope. Favre typically left people believing he was just doing what had come naturally to him since Pop Warner football back in Kiln, Mississippi.

Depending on your general point of view, you either beatified him or begrudged him all the media man-crushes.

Try to get past that. That archetype that Favre embodied, though, has always had a strong pull through the years -- think what Dizzy Dean or Mickey Mantle came to mean after they were done playing -- but it might be in its last throes. The changing complexion (not to mention, pigmentation) of the American athletic labour pool, the growth of youth sports leagues even in the past 20 years, population and economic trends that have remade the southern U.S., all work against having another Brett Favre. That's probably why he meant so much, plus he did play for the Green Bay Packers, a truly national team.

It did ring true that he was a throwback -- although, in the modern way, his people should get credit for managing the news cycle, timing the retirement announcement for a slow news day in March before baseball spring training and the NCAA Tournament take over the sports discussion. That's not so important.

Favre was damn good for a damn long time (he was even able to beat the Vikings just slightly more than half the time, go ahead, look it up). Attention had to be paid with Number 4, team loyalties notwithstanding.

It's going to take a few football seasons to not expect him to show up Sunday and hum three touchdown passes through a confused Vikings secondary. By god, it was a kick rooting against him.

Favre to retire (Al Jones, Biloxi Sun-Herald)


Pattington said...

I feel like crying.

Dennis Prouse said...

Smart move on Favre's part. He was able to cheat Father Time for one last season in '07, allowing him to retire on his own terms and ensuring that his legacy remains intact. It is an open question as to whether he would have been able to repeat that success in '08 - Father Time catches up to every athlete eventually, and it is particularly sad to see a legend floundering for one last season when in hindsight he should have hung 'em up the year before. (See Smith, Emmitt, Arizona Cardinals.) I'm glad Favre is riding into the sunset with people still asking if he had another year left in him.

Anonymous said...

classy article...good job

sager said...

Thanks, all..

Now, for the other side, Slate has reposted it's classic Favre takedown from three seasons ago ... Randy Moss grew up in isolation too, but it's not as much as a Horatio Alger story.