In my opinion, there’s nothing sadder than when a celebrity doesn’t know when to quit. We see it all the time with rock stars. The Rolling Stones still tour, but at this point they’re so old that at best they sound like a cover band of their former selves. Despite continuing to come out with new albums every couple of years, no one can say U2 is anywhere near as talented, creative, or mesmerizing as they used to be. And Brett Michaels just looks pathetic on VH1. Actors are the same way, and it’s given rise to shows like “the Surreal Life,” a show which single-handedly dropped America’s IQ a point or two with its blatant and unabashed stupidity. ESPN’s Bill Simmons once described the phenomenon as when someone does Plan A for as long as they can, then continues to do Plan A long after they’re really able to because they can’t come up with a good Plan B.
The same thing, I fear, can be said of Brett Favre. He continues to refuse to hang it up, and it gets sadder and sadder with each passing year. The only person I’ve ever called my hero is my father, but when I was a kid the closest thing I could say I had to a sports hero was Brett Favre. He was a great teammate. He reinvigorated the Green Bay Packers franchise (the only team I rooted for as a young boy, since my parents were from Milwaukee and hated baseball). He was unbelievably talented, yet he had a twinge of inconsistency that always made him exciting to watch. This was a different kind of excitement than the kind engendered by players like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, who are nothing but consistent. They’re also fun to watch (even though I hate Peyton Manning with a passion), but it’s not the same as the wild excitement of a young Brett Favre. Most importantly to me as a kid, Brett Favre loved to play football, and he always had a huge smile on his face whenever he played. A smile like that couldn’t help but make other people smile. He loved to play the game, and he was great at it, and the world loved to watch him play. I even rooted for him over the New England Patriots in the 1996 Super Bowl.
But, unfortunately, a combination of his love of the game and his inability to figure out the next stage in his life has kept him from doing what he really ought to do: hang up his cleats and call it a career. The Hall of Fame is ready and waiting to honor him with induction, they just need him to stay off the field for a few years. And let’s face it: Favre isn’t what he used to be. I wouldn’t even call him that good of a quarterback anymore. His completion percentage last year: a mere 65.7%. He had as many interceptions as touchdowns, with a passer rating of just 81. He wasn’t even in the top 20 for that category. Favre is burning through all of the love and credibility he built up in his heyday with every year that he refuses to retire, and honestly it just makes me sad.