There’s been little more annoying for fans of American Football to see the sport’s headlines dominated by the retirement saga of Number Four. We want to read about off-season trades, the repercussions of the NFL Draft, the all-too-regular misdeeds of the players. We don’t want to read speculation and conjecture about the future of a man who unfortunately out-stayed his welcome.
In an alternative universe, Brett Favre hung up his helmet in the wake of the NFC Championship Game loss against the New York Giants. It would have been an ignominious retirement, but one that would have came with honour. Brett would have led the Packers to their finest season in many years, and would have walked away as the battle-hardened hero he always was. Most of all, despite his final play interception, we’d have all had respect for the gunslinger.
However, in this universe, Brett is a figure of mockery. He’s more annoying than amazing, and the respect held for him by American football fans, and possibly even more importantly, the love held for him by the Packers’ fans, has all but evaporated. The man who led the Packers to their first Lombardi Trophies since Vince himself is no longer beloved by the Cheeseheads. Yesterday’s decision to retire before an unpleasant return to Lambeau in a Vikings’ uniform perhaps saves the semblance of respect they have for him, but his intention to move down the road to Minnesota in the first place has most definitely left a sour taste in the mouths of some.
The ironic thing, for Favre, is that after all of his previous humming-and-hawing, there are a lot of people who don’t believe his announcement that he has given up the sport forever. Today, on NFL Total Access, pundits openly speculated that they almost expect him to line-out again while over on Sports Illustrated Peter King is of a similar opinion. I, for one, do believe that this is indeed it for Favre, but like The Boy Who Called Wolf, we’ll have to wait-and-see if this, indeed, is it.
Favre’s announcement overshadowed another bit of NFL-related news that emerged last night. A true football hero, Eagles’ assistant Jim Johnson lost his valiant battle against cancer. One of the best defensive minds of all-time, Johnson’s long-term influence within the Eagles’ organisation led to the increased influence of co-ordinators across the League. I hope that, within the League, Favre’s announcement does not stop people from remembering Johnson as the great he was.