Yesterday, the AP reported that Brett Favre, former MVP of the National Football League and Super Bowl XXXI champion, would finally retire. Favre spent most of his career with the Green Bay Packers as one of the most beloved figures in that area. He’s gone through a roller-coaster of an exit, if this is, indeed, his goodbye.
Three years ago, Favre was the face of the Packers, the quarterback who'd been with one team his whole career. He broke record after record in the 2007 season, only falling short of the ultimate goal—another Super Bowl win—in the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants, who would ultimately win the Super Bowl.
After the glory-filled season, Favre appeared to be done. He announced his retirement, and he said that he didn't have it anymore. “I know I can play, but I don't think I want to. And that's really what it comes down to.” It was an instant classic: A good old boy had done good, he'd been with one franchise his whole career, he'd done everything a professional football player could desire and now, he was going out with some well-placed tears. Everyone could empathize with him.
Except that, four months later, Favre appeared on Fox News to say that he'd been pressured by the Packers into retiring early and that he was never fully committed to the idea. He requested a release from the organization, there was some back and forth, and finally, the Packer-for-life ended up playing for the New York Jets in 2008.
At the end of that season, Favre informed the Jets he was retiring. So they released him. Then he signed with the Minnesota Vikings (longtime rivals of the Packers, for what it's worth) and played another season of record-breaking football. Among the records Favre smashed through in 2009 was the (perhaps dubious) honor of being the only quarterback to beat all 32 teams in the NFL when his Vikings defeated the Green Bay Packers. When the Vikings lost in the NFC Championship Game to the New Orleans Saints, the eventual Super Bowl winners, the Brett Favre watch officially began. Again.
So it's not so surprising to wake up this morning and see Favre, once again, out and about in the media, claiming that he might not retire after all. There's no denying that he's one of the all-time greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, so if he wants to play the game and he's able to do so, there's no doubt that he should be allowed to do so.
But in the short course of three years, Brett Favre has unchangeably tarnished his image. He's won more games than he's lost, so it's not like it's all been bad, but most people would agree that sports isn't purely about the product on the field or the court, or wherever it's taking place. Michael Jordan sets the precedent with his Wizards-comeback that NBA purists just try to forget, his mismanagement (notably drafting Kwame Brown first overall) and his vitriolic Hall of Fame speech.
It will be a shame if Brett Favre continues to shade his post-career impressions as the QB Who (Constantly) Cried Retirement, as opposed to simply being one of the best to ever throw a football.