The Honor in #4

Ted Greeley

Earlier this week, I prepared an article on professional athletes and the reasons they play the game. It was rather condemning of pro athletes and the pro game; but, after Tuesday morning, that article did not seem right, because Tuesday Brett Favre retired.Personally, I am not a Packers fan. In fact, in general, I cannot stand them. I was raised a Barry Sanders fan, not to be confused with a Lions fan. All I wanted was to see Barry Sanders do well and win a championship; the rest of the team really didn’t matter. Brett Favre was always the guy who ended up beating the Lions and, therefore, he beat Barry Sanders.

Although I could not root for Brett Favre as a Green Bay Packer, I have only respect for him as a person and for the way he played the game.

In an age where the average pro athlete worries more about his paycheck than his loyalty, Favre was an anomaly, staying on a small market team where the endorsements were small. Favre could have been paid more and received bigger endorsement deals by leaving, but he stayed.

Watching Brett Favre was a lot like watching a kid play football, jumping into a teammate’s arms with a giant smile after a big touchdown. Who can forget that manic run onto the field after winning the Super Bowl?

Best of all was his snowball toss this past post-season that really did look like a little kid. It will always be impossible to forget that smile he had when someone asked him about football. That little smirk that said to everyone around, “You guys are idiots. I’d play the game for free.”

Then, of course, there are the records. By the numbers, Favre is the greatest quarterback ever to play the game; with yards and touchdowns, few come even close to Farve. Most impressive is his consecutive games streak of 253 in a row as a quarterback, all the while getting hit by 300-pounders every week.

Favre was a player who would give everything for the team. He was the guy who would push the ball down the field, even if it meant throwing a shovel pass 10 yards down field in the snow. He put everything on the line every weekend, even when he was hurt.

When this year’s NFL teams get together, it might be a good idea for the coaches to play a tape of Brett Favre. The way he handled the media, the fans, and the game can only be respected. He was that rare pro athlete who seemed to play for the love of the game.

Looking back, Green Bay Packers fans and football fans in general have someone to salute, and fans should do it with a beer like Brett would. As a whole generation of Packer fans learn for the first time what life is like without Favre, raise a bottle or can in honor of #4.