I’m sure Brett Favre doesn’t care about his legacy. If he did, he would have made a greater effort to avoid establishing his credentials as the Man Who Didn’t Know How to Quit.
In Minnesota, fans probably don’t care about that stuff, either. They’re just mostly delighted that No. 4 is going to be wearing the purple and gold and leading the Vikings to the Promised Land. For them, it’s all going to depend on whether he gets them to the Super Bowl — a place he hasn’t visited since 1998 — or ends the year with another game-losing interception in a playoff game. If it’s the former, they’ll get delighted he returned. If it’s the latter, they’ll find themselves hoping he finds another team to unretire with next year.
But there’s no longer any debating his legacy. He is now officially the worst quitter in the history of sports. Roger Clemens had his problems knowing when to quit, but he was an amateur compared to Favre, who has failed at quitting so many times there’s nothing left for him to do but sign up for a 12-step program to fight his addiction.
“I’m Brett, and I’m addicted to quitting — or is that not quitting? I’m not sure. It’s one or the other. Let me get back to you when I decide which.”
Other players have managed to waffle on retirement and get away with it. No one really remembers anymore that Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas couldn’t hang up the cleats, even when they couldn’t play anymore. And Willie Mays was forgiven long ago for hanging on past his sell-by date with the Mets. And Clemens replaced his legacy of indecision with one of needles and denial.
But Favre is stuck with the image he’s created. He’ll always be one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. But he’ll also be the cartoon character who became so addicted to the tear-stained retirement speech that he kept repeating it year after year after year to the last syllable of recorded time.
I know it’s my job, but I’m not even going to try to play armchair psychologist on this guy. I tried it three years ago and two years ago and three or four times last year and again this spring. That’s enough. I quit, and unlike Favre, I mean it. I’ll leave it to the shrinks to decide whether he’s worthy of having a syndrome named after him.
But I will say that I there’s got to be at least one person who has to be delighted beyond words that he’s decided to fail at quitting again — Mrs. Brett Favre.
When people act a certain way in one part of their lives, you can be pretty sure that they act that way in other parts. And if that’s true, as wonderful a guy as Favre is, living with him has to be an exercise in frustration.
I’m sure Deanna Favre won’t admit it — not in public anyway — but you have to suspect that the minute the most unsuccessful quitter in the history of sports climbed on that private plane to fly to Minnesota, she was doing the happy dance.
Can you imagine watching TV with this guy? You’d never see more than 30 seconds of any show. He wants to watch this. No, that. No, the other show. Darn it, let’s go back to the first one. Yeah, that’s it. No, let’s check this first.
How about going out to pick out paint? Packer green or Jets green? Minnesota purple? Maybe another color? Do you have that orange in sky blue?
It’s not just this family who have to be relieved. I can’t imagine getting stuck behind Favre in the cereal aisle. It’s got to be an all-day affair deciding between sweet and healthy, crunchy and mushy, corn and oats. Pick one out, move on. Run back and replace the first one and pick a second. Wheel the cart over the condiments, then take the second box back and bring back the first along with a third. And you know he’s going to do it all standing in the middle of the aisle so no one can do anything until he makes up the mind that can’t be made up.
Fortunately for the Favre family, there’s no end in sight. As long as Favre plays brilliantly for half the season or so — and you know he’ll do that, because it’s what he always does — he’ll have somewhere to unretired to next year and the year after that and so on. George Blanda, who never tried to retire, played until he was 48. For Favre, that’s just nine more unretirements away.
I’m sure I speak for all football fans and the Favre family when I say, I can’t wait.