The phone rang early and often this morning. The callers were fellow Cheeseheads wanting to know if I had heard the news that Brett Favre had decided to retire. My first reaction was much like that of hearing of the demise of someone I knew"¦ denial and disbelief. Last week the Packers' official web site briefly ran a Favre retirement notice. They quickly withdrew it and claimed it to be an error. It turns out that it wasn't an error after all and alas, it appears that the great Brett Favre has finally called it a career. Football in Titletown will not be the same.
Last year, at the age of 37, Favre played as if he were 10 years younger in leading the surprising Packers to the NFC championship game. In doing so he broke just about every all-time NFL quarterback record there is to break. With the unexpected rise in the team's 2007 performance, I thought for sure Favre would return for at least another season. My wife predicted otherwise and it turns out that she has better intuition than I.
It will be weird not seeing number 4 on the field when the team reassembles for spring training. I remember the quarterbacks that played pre-Favre but it seems like eons ago when Don Majkowski and Lynn Dickey were calling the signals. My Cheesehead quarterback memories go way back to Bart Starr. Starr was one of the better quarterbacks to ever play the game of professional football but he didn't have anywhere near the skills of Favre.
Arguably, Favre might be the best to ever play his position. Certainly his arm strength was second to none. Brett had his wild days and bad games but he will be remembered as probably the best to ever wear the green and gold. He is certain to be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame.
Favre will also be remembered for off-the-field dilemmas. His addiction to pain killers, his father's sudden passing and his wife's bout with breast cancer touched fans with the real-life problems many of us face. Favre handled all these crises with class and as a result drew respect from Cheeseheads and non-Cheeseheads alike. He will be sorely missed by those of us who love professional football.
So what does Ted Thompson do now? My guess is that Thompson will sign a veteran quarterback to back up the heir apparent, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers was drafted in the first round a couple years ago and hasn't had much of a chance to show what he can or can't do. Now the spotlight will be on him and we shall see. In the few chances that he has had, Rogers has shown a propensity for injury. Journeyman Craig Nall is the only other quarterback on the squad so it makes sense to sign someone else or possibly draft a quarterback.
The landscape in the nation of Cheese has been suddenly and monumentally changed. Change, be it in football or politics, can either be a good or a bad thing. Time will tell what the Packers' fortune will be in the sans-Favre era. One thing is for sure; Brett Favre will not soon be forgotten.