Well, as much as I already loved Brett Favre, I love him even more after today’s press conference. He was the epitome of graciousness today, as I knew he would be, and he did a remarkable job of trying to put into words the overwhelming emotions which he was feeling as this extraordinary era drew to a close. I loved that he started out his remarks by thanking God for all of the gifts he had been given – and I loved how he was so careful to say that his accomplishments which have been so highly praised were in fact “our” accomplishments. He very emphatically stamped out the speculation that his decision to retire was sparked by any disenchantment with the Packers. And in the midst of choking back tears and trying to grind out a few words in the early going, and said that he had watched hundreds of players retire, but somehow that didn’t help make this any easier at all. He was most broken up, interestingly enough, as he said through sobs that he hoped that the Packers realized that every penny they had paid him over the years was money well spent- and that in the end his career was not about money or fame or records. He managed to gain all three in spades, of course, but none of that is what drove him to his greatness.
I also loved how he apologized to the assembled reports for being late for the press conference by almost a half hour – and apologized simply and sincerely. Suffice to say that there are plenty of wealthy sports stars with pompous self-centeredness who not be nearly so concerned about keeping some reporters waiting. By the way, one consequence of the late start is that the hour I recorded on Tivo includes half an hour of Martha Stewart’s television program until finally the press conference begins- so I ended up with only the first half hour or so. Grrrrrrrrrr. Fortunately, that was enough to capture all of Favre’s opening remarks, which is what I most wanted. (Sports reporters sure know how to ask dumb questions, but fortunately most of the questions posed today didn’t seem to be too bad in that respect.)
It was so good to hear from Brett Favre himself today after a whole day of listening to the blather of commentators and reporters who indulged in every manner of idle speculation about the retirement. I understood full well why the Milwaukee TV stations were inclined to provide wall-to-wall coverage of the Favre retirement, but to do so with so little hard and fast information to share with the viewers made for a somewhat frustrating day. Of course, there were plenty of highlights from his career to talk about- and I especially enjoyed an NFL Films documentary airing late last night which featured extended comment from Brett, his wife, his coaches, and many other principal players in his life and career. . .and which featured several excerpts from the greatest game of his career- the classic Monday night game against Oakland which was played in the immediate wake of the sudden death of Brett’s dad. The question posed so famously by Al Michaels at the ’84 Olympics comes to mind: Do You Believe In Miracles? Anyone who watched that incredible Oakland game must surely be tempted to answer Yes.
The human heart can be such a tender thing – and I especially love it when that tenderness comes in a surprising package like an All Pro NFL quarterback.