Some Empathy For Number Four

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Jesse Heussner ’11
Features Editor

The result was so incredibly fitting, but so cruel. Everyone saw the play developing. The Vikings were on the Saints 40 yard line, seconds away from their first super bowl appearance in over ten years. Brett Favre was playing as well as ever, leading the team on one leg, and proving his critics wrong once again. And then, he threw it. He forced it. Interception. The same pass we’ve seen so many times.

In so many ways, Favre’s last game was a mirror image of his whole career. He showed his usual flashes of greatness, his kid-like enthusiasm (at the young age of 41), and a toughness that might not ever be seen again in the NFL. Yet, just like his highly documented career, it was a game of ebbs and flows. He fumbled, he was bumped, bruised, and he ended the game with the one thing that he will always be remembered for: the interception.

And the writers loved it: “He lost the game,” one writer claimed. “It’s time for him to (finally) hang it up,” another said. “Is there anyone who isn’t tired by the Favre saga?” ESPN analyst Skip Bayless scoffed.

Well Skipp, I’m not. While Favre might be the most hated player in sports right now, it is more of a product of ESPN feeling burned by his retirement situation than anything else.

The bottom line is this: he is still the same guy he was five or ten years ago, and the turmoil that has ensued over the past few years has only reinforced that. His toughness is still unprecedented, and he still has a boyish love for football at the age of 41. The fact that he kept retiring, unretiring, retiring, and unretiring again just proves that, no matter what his doubters say.

Why has he garnered so much hate lately? Personally, I don’t know. I am a Jets fan (the team he crushed the hopes of just one year ago), and still have an affection for number four. Sure, he may have burned the Packers, but their fans’ bitterness is completely absurd. Favre rejuvenated that franchise as well as the Packers new quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who looks to be on the verge of greatness.

And the media? Cry me a river. The guy changed his mind, big deal. What’s so bad about a player who loves the game so much that he can’t give it up? Isn’t that what we cherish in sports? It’s not like Favre is playing his way out of the league, either. His 2009 season was one of the best in his career, and he turned a 9-7 team into a super bowl contender. He’s still a player, despite his age.

Yet, despite all of this, Favre will only be remembered for one pass. His legacy lamented in inconsistency, and his reputation tarnished by bitter fans and members of the media. One word will come before all else: interception.