Thursday, August 7, 2008

Retiring Number Four

Brett Favre’s recent un-retirement and the Packer management’s game of “How-Can-We-Miss-You-If-You-Won’t-Go-Away” has caused much angst and outrage here in the Enchanted Land-O-Cheese, but it’s left me with something of a dilemma.

On the weekends, my wife Lute and I do craft fairs. She sells handmade jewelry and I do cartoon portraits. As part of my end of the operation, I display several sample pieces of my work. Hitherto, one of my show pieces , the star of the gallery, has been a caricature I did of Favre back in 1999. I like that portrait; I think it captures his likeness and his personality. And I feel a certain amount of pride that I was able to dash it off from memory. I matted the picture to set it apart from the others and Lute calls the piece “Saint Brett”.

The title is only half-facetious, because Brett really is regarded with that level of adulation here in Cheesehead territory. At his best, as in last year’s playoff game against the Seahawks, he is a joy to behold. He can be besieged by the other teams defense and yet save the play with a laser-guided pass or an unexpected shovel pass or even by sprinting the ball by himself to a first down; all the while grinning like a kid in a candy shop. I’m not a football fan, but that’s the thing that made me notice Brett; not the spectacular plays he made, but how much he enjoyed the game. (Although, to be honest, on days when he’s not having fun, he tends to get very sloppy. It’s a tribute to his talent that he can have an interception record like he does and still be an MVP).

When he announced his retirement last spring, he broke a lot of hearts. A lot of Packer fans wondered what the team would do without him; but I think a lot of us knew in our hearts that he’d have to go eventually. So, we worked through the Seven Stages of Grief and finally came to Acceptance.

And that’s when he came back and said, “Oops. Changed my mind.”

There are a lot of Packers fans who feel the team should have let him back. After all, he still is Brett Blessed Favre. Others are outraged at the idea that he might play for another team. But others feel that Brett should have stuck by his decision. When he said last spring that he wasn’t enjoying the game as much as he used to and didn’t think he could bring the level of dedication to the field that the team deserved, we took him at his word.

So what do I do with Saint Brett?

When he first announced that he wanted to come out of retirement a couple weeks ago, I debated whether or not to display his portrait with my other sample pieces. In the end, I compromised. I attached a word balloon written on an index card to the portrait saying: “Ha ha! I’m back again!”. I figured that would give people a chuckle no matter what they thought about the issue.

But now the matter has been decided. Brett will not be coming back to the Packers, either as a starter or a back-up. He’s going to the Jets. “At least he’s not going to the Tampons,” Lute says. She dislikes Tampa Bay almost as much as she does the Cowboys.

I think, then that it’s time to retire the portrait as well. I’ll replace it with a different piece in my sample gallery. Farewell, Number Four.



alex-ness said...

I grew up a Bart Starr fan, so while I acknowledge the magnificence of Favre I never warmed to him nearly as much as the star named Bart.

But this last season I saw why people saw him as a magical player. At times you could just see him will things into being.

I liked that. It made me appreciate his fandom.

I like football itself more than any team but the old Packers will always be in my heart. But the Jets have always been my AFC/AFL team. So I kind of win out.

Brynna said...

I like the picture. :D

Steve Chaput said...

Perhaps, if I was a bigger sports fan this sort of thing would mean more to me. I also think that in this day and age, when players tend to go from team to team I sometime think fans become too proprietary of the players. While fans may feel a loyalty to their local club, the player owes no such loyalty, IMHO.

Of course, I'm not saying I didn't get choked up when Carl Yastrzemski wore his Red Sox jersey (#8) for the last time.

alex-ness said...