Brett Favre was supposedly embarrassing himself when he retired and un-retired and flirted with retirement and flirted with un-retirement on an ongoing basis for much of the last half-decade, but No. 4 managed to perform quite admirably on the field, which made it hard for the majority of reasonable football pundits to pile on.
One year after putting up the best numbers of his career in a maiden voyage with the Minnesota Vikings, Favre’s play fell off a 41-year-old cliff. He had the lowest passer rating of his career, he turned the ball over 24 times and he saw his remarkable consecutive starts streak come to a painful and abrupt conclusion.
And that’s probably why Favre continues to insist, even as we creep toward July, that he’s done with the game of professional football.
“I can still throw the ball as well as I ever have,” Favre told the media at a football camp for youngsters at the Southern Mississippi campus this morning. “No question about that.”
That said, he’s done. “I don’t want to put my body through that anymore,” he said. “I’ve been beat up enough.”
This retirement feels different, and I think it’s because of how Favre went out. He might finally realize that he’s mortal, that he doesn’t have enough gas in the tank to either fix what happened in 2010 or build on what happened in 2009, when the Vikes fell just three points short of landing in Super Bowl XLIV.
But while his failed 2010 season won’t drastically alter his final statistics (he was already the league’s all-time interception leader anyway), I’m wondering if we’ll now include images from that train wreck when we review his Hall of Fame career retrospectively.
We’ll never forget that shot of the boyish-looking southern kid celebrating with helmet in hand during his only Super Bowl victory, a 35-21 win over New England in XXXI. This one:
But now we might also remember Favre for the humiliation that plagued him in his final season, whether it was on or off the field. Will we ever forget Deadspin and Jenn Sterger, or that monster, streak-killing hit he took against Buffalo, or this final parting shot on the cold turf at the University of Minnesota? Will this image prevail?
If anything, the best way for Favre to push the debris from 2010 out of his long-term legacy might be for him to stay connected to the world of football. Our lasting memories are naturally the most recent ones we have. If Favre disappears, those final shots might never escape the minds of his fans.