Brett Favre is nothing if not a continuous stream of paradoxes.
For sixteen years, he was our guy. Favre won a Super Bowl, hauled in three MVP’s, and set just about every passing record known to man. He also threw a ton of interceptions, started a feud with the organization, and eventually ended his career concussed to near unconsciousness on the floor of the University of Minnesota’s football stadium wearing the colors of a hated rival.
To remember him is to take the bad with the good, and that’s part of what made him great.
You could never accuse Favre of not living in the moment. Everything he did, both on the field and off it, boiled down to one simple question: what feels like the best thing to do right now? Consequences be damned. If it felt like a good thing to do, he did it.
As a player, he never saw an opening for a pass that was any better than the first one he encountered on a given play. It didn’t matter if the throw had to miraculously pass through the arms of six defenders before landing at its target. If he thought it was the best throw, he threw it. Sometime it resulted in spectacular touchdowns. Other times it meant an easy interception for the opposing team.
Out of uniform, Favre was equally well-known for making decisions that lacked foresight, and he made a lot of them. Like the alcoholic-level drinking that led to his Vicodin addiction. Or his first retirement and subsequent feud with management. Or the dirty picture/voicemail scandal with the Jets. Or the second retirement. Or moving to the Vikings just to get back at the Packers, regardless of what it did to his remaining good will in Green Bay. Or returning for a second season with Minnesota, despite being banged up so bad he could hardly move. The list is long.
But separating the bad from the good with Brett Favre has really never been an option. So now, as the Packers begin their overtures toward Favre in hopes of restoring him to the franchise that made him great, it’s important that we don’t simply forgive and forget.
Forgive, yes. But don’t forget what it felt like to see Favre in a Jets uniform. Don’t forget him returning to Lambeau Field as a Viking. Don’t forget the six interception playoff game against the Rams. Don’t forget the punt-like interception he lofted to Brian Dawkins in the 4th-and-26 game. Don’t forget the head scratching pick that was his last throw with the Packers.
But for that matter, don’t forget that magical touchdown pass to Kitrick Taylor. Don’t forget the legendary dive into the end zone at County Stadium. Don’t forget seeing him run off the field, helmet stretched above his head, during Super Bowl XXXI. Don’t forget the Monday Night Football classic in Oakland, the day after his father died. Don’t forget that stumbling, underhanded throw in the snow at Lambeau against the Seahawks.
On that day when he finally comes back to Lambeau Field to put his number up next to Tony, Don, Bart, Ray, and Reggie, it’ll be time to forgive old transgressions, but not to forget. Never forget any of it, good or bad, because if you try to whitewash the history of Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, you won’t ever be remembering him the way he really was.