Favre has earned the right to play as long as he wants

I've never been a big Brett Favre fan. Growing up in Minnesota, you learn to dislike all things Packer before you take your first steps. So like most Minnesotans, I cringed every time the Packers were on national television, because that meant li...

I've never been a big Brett Favre fan.

Growing up in Minnesota, you learn to dislike all things Packer before you take your first steps.

So like most Minnesotans, I cringed every time the Packers were on national television, because that meant listening to play-by-play men and analysts drool over Favre for three hours. Even when he threw an interception into triple coverage with the game on the line, the announcers would marvel.

"Oh that wily Favre! What a gunslinger! He just takes chances others guys don't take."



Now that I get paid to watch those games, that perspective has changed.

And in the waning years of his career, with the MVPs and the Super Bowls in his rearview mirror, I'm finally in Favre's c orner.

I watched in the offseason as many urged him to retire. Those people saw the lack of talent around him and envisioned only struggles for a player whose best days are behind him.

They didn't want to see him go through the kind of "sad" fall from grace that players like Joe Namath, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith did -- riding the pine for other teams and holding on just a bit too long.

I say play on, Brett. Play as long as you want to play and wherever you want to play. If the Packers decide to rebuild next season and go with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and you think you still have something left, go somewhere else and play.

Be like Rice, whose Hall of Fame career ended with a lackluster season in Seattle and a failed tryout with Denver.

Many looked at Rice's finish with disgust, seeing an old man who didn't know when to quit.

Not me.


I looked at it as inspiring -- a fierce competitor who loved the game too much to give up.

The whole notion of "going out on top" is baloney.

Why should Rice or Favre or Smith or Namath have to retire on anyone else's terms but their own?

The amazing numbers Favre has put up -- three MVPs, 407 touchdown passes, 229 consecutive starts -- have earned him the right to keep playing as long as there is a team out there that wants to pay him.

And if his career ends with him sitting on the bench in Washington or Houston or Buffalo, so what? How does that change what he did for 15 glorious seasons in Green Bay? Those numbers and achievements are set in stone. There's no taking them away.

No matter where he ends up, Favre will always be a Packer. And no matter how poorly he finishes his career, Favre will always be a Hall of Famer.

This season the Packers are 3-5 and Favre's quarterback rating is 22nd in the league, behind such stars as Alex Smith, David Carr and Jon Kitna, and just ahead of Daunte Culpepper.

Things haven't been as bad as some Packer fans initially feared, but they are certainly a long way from the teams of the late 1990s that annually contended for the Super Bowl.


Favre has lost some of that magic, some of that mystique, especially at Lambeau Field.

Maybe his fastball doesn't have the zip it once had, maybe his instincts aren't quite as sharp as they once were, maybe his supporting cast isn't as, uh, supportive as it once was.

Whatever the reasons, Favre is struggling, and so are the Packers.

This week he comes to the Metrodome, his personal house of horrors, for what might be the last time in his career.

If it is, in fact, the last time he steps on the turf at the Metrodome -- the place where he once fired a football at Ragnar the Viking as the obnoxious mascot drove out of the tunnel on his motorcycle during the pregame introductions -- I hope it's because he's decided to move on.

Maybe after this season, which looks more and more like it will be a long, difficult one, he will say to himself, "I don't have anything left." And maybe he'll head back down to Mississippi to be with his wife and family.

But if August rolls around and he's feeling a little antsy, if that gleam returns to the corner of his eye, I say go for it, Brett. C'mon back for another go-round.

If you can't do it quite as well as you used to, or for the same team, so what?


Playing in the NFL isn't an accounting job. Careers are measured in years, not decades. And once you're done, you're done. There's no part-time gig playing football just to keep busy.

The roar of the crowd is intoxicating. The camaraderie with teammates irreplacable. The feeling of victory unbeatable. I learned that playing in high school, so I can't even imagine multiplying it by 10,000 to duplicate what it's like to play in the NFL.

So I say don't rush into retirement, Brett. Play until you've lost your love for the game, or the game has lost its love for you.

I'm guessing the former will come much sooner than the latter.

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