JEFF: The End
By Jeff Falconio
The news was swift and shocking. It seemed like such a sure thing. How could Brett Favre not come back for one more year? The only time I've felt this abrupt feeling of finality was when my favorite television show "Seinfeld" went off the air. As Jerry and company walked to their jail cells in the final episode to meet their 12 month punishment Jerry said "it's only one year, then we'll be back." It couldn't end like that, could it? It'll be back in a year, won't it? But I knew the truth, it was all over. That's pretty much how I felt throughout the day.
Brett's career couldn't end like it did, could it? Favre just came off a career-defining year, taking the Packers farther than anyone had imagined. He re-wrote the NFL record book. He would've been the MVP had it not been for Tom Brady. Looking ahead to next season, why wouldn't Favre want to come back? The Packers were the early favorite to win the NFC North going away and most assuredly would be Super Bowl contenders. With a roster full of young talent and an up-and-coming coach who proved his worth, everything was locked in for 2008.
But Favre knows, probably more than anyone in the NFL, that nothing is guaranteed. It would've been appropriate for Favre's career to end with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. But winning the Super Bowl is supremely difficult. Favre knows this. Brady knows it now too. Favre cited that he was mentally drained. Watching him hurl laser beams to his receivers, it's easy to forget that Favre is pushing 40. It's great when you're running around Lambeau Field, fist pumping the crowd after throwing yet another touchdown. But that's only a tiny fraction of a football player's life. There's the gut-busting off season workouts, then OTAs and minicamps. Two-a-day preseason practices in sweltering heat. Then when the season arrives there's the mind-numbing routine of treatment, film sessions, and practice. After awhile it gets to be a bit much and that's where Favre is. Truth be told, despite all the talent and coaching there's just no guarantee that all the hours spent in the weight room, in meetings, and in practice will lead to a Super Bowl.
So why now? A few weeks ago I said that Favre could walk away this off season simply because he can. For the last couple of years he was given as much time as needed to make his decision to return or hang it up. Favre leaves behind a full cupboard and a lot of what ifs but he gets to leave on his own terms. He won't be forced into early retirement due to injury. He won't be unceremoniously released at the end of the season to clear salary cap space. He won't turn into a Vinny Testaverde/Jeff George novelty type who hung on to a washed up career a bit too long. Simply put, Favre goes out on one of the highest notes of his career and that's something few athletes can say.