One of football's great quarterback, the former Green Bay Packer was a career leader in victories (186), yards passing (71,838), and touchdown passes (508), completions (6300), and interceptions (336).
He's now retiring for a record third time. He shed tears when announcing his retirement with the Packers in 2008, and the New York Jets in 2009, but none were shed this time, which is ironic because this time the retirement might actually stick.
As quoted by the associated press, here are some words from Brett Fabre:
"That's the thing every player and former player that I've talked to ... will tell you that what you miss is the guys, the fellowship, the bus rides, locker rooms, winning and losing together, celebrating together," Favre said. "That's the things you're going to miss. If I sat here and told you I would not miss that, I'd be kidding myself. From a playing standpoint, there's nothing else left to do."
It's nice that Brett has no regrets, but honestly I have a few. I was a huge fan of Brett for many years, but less so lately, and not simply because he continued playing even until his athletic skills were obviously deteriorating.
Football players are a well-paid bunch, and he made more money than most, which is fine. But for good or ill, football players and other athletes aren't merely competitors, they are also role models for kids across the country. I wish that weren't so, because frankly most athletes aren't particularly role models.
When I went out for football myself when I was younger, I was told that one of the reasons I should go out was so that I could learn about sportsmanship, and the nature of competition. I think it did help me with that. I learned that sometimes you lose, and sometimes you win. And in a sense, learning how to deal with losing was more important than winning. Winning is easy, but learning from your mistakes and taking a tough defeat is something that some people never really learn to do, and that lack of maturity follows them throughout their life.
These days, when I talk to others about their kids going out for football, baseball, or some other sport, nobody brings up sportsmanship any more. That's probably appropriate, because I'm not sure anyone is trying to teach it. Today we idolize people who win, and whether or not they are really admirable, or even have basic maturity is totally irrelevant.
And so, we elevated people like Farbe to this incredible level of popularity because he had a lot of god-given talent, and because he used it well. We try not to pay attention to the level of disrespect that he showed to people who supported him for years. It used to be people were angry at players who jumped teams, but Favre has been in three teams in three years. It's a big deal when a quarterback leaves. Your entire playbook is based on him, and he made so much money that decisions on who they could hire and who they could trade had to be changed or delayed while he tried to figure out whether or not he was sticking around.
His personal life isn't too impressive either. When I heard that Favre had sent pictures of himself masturbating to a woman who worked for the Jets, somehow it just sounded like him. I wasn't surprised. I do remember wondering how his wife felt about that, or more significantly how his two daughters felt hearing about it on the news. The internet being what it is, if they were curious they could have googled the subject and seen the pictures themselves.
He's always had a reputation for being a hard-partying guy, but we'd never really had that much graphic evidence of it before.
I wish athletes weren't role models. There is no reason to expect the average 20-year-old male with great athletic ability who just signed a million dollar contract to be a shining example of humanity. And in a sense, I think that's the problem. When a good athlete is worth millions, the teams have every reason in the world to ignore their stupid behavior for as long as possible.
But as parents, we have reason to expect more. And as someone who never had any of that god-given ability but who loved the game, I wish that sports were still something you put your kid into so he could learn how to be a better man.