x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Favre's second retirement comes as no surprise

His legacy will not be the touchdown records or the yardage records; it will be the entertaining, reckless style in which he played the position for a long time.

Stop me if you heard this one before. Brett Favre has announced that he is going to retire. I know you heard this last year. Seriously, it's for real this time. The 2009 version of the Favre exit snuck up on sports fans. In a week in which Michael Phelps and Alex Rodriguez dominated our headlines in the US, Favre's retirement announcement did not really shock anyone. A year ago when the news came down that the future Hall of Fame quarterback was leaving the Green Bay Packers and the NFL; it was a thunderbolt to anyone who watches sport. There will be no tear-filled news conference as Favre leaves the New York Jets, the team he backtracked to join last summer. This retirement was done with a phone call to the Jets top-brass from Favre on Wednesday morning, followed up with a brief conference call to appease the collective media. "Physically, if I felt better maybe we wouldn't be having this conversation," Favre said. "I finally can't throw the ball like I used to and that, to me, was more telling than anything." So there we have it. The man whose cannon arm frustrated NFL defences for 17 seasons still had the mental will to carry on for another year with the Jets, but his body said no. Last summer was the first time anyone said "no" to Favre. It was the Packers who moved on from the man who led them to a Super Bowl title. They chose the younger quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. The summer-long saga culminated in Favre's out-of-nowhere trade to the Jets. This time his team still wanted him to give it another go, but if he did, it would not have been the Favre we had come to love. Assuming this retirement is not Jordan-esque (remember when Michael came back again to play for the Washington Wizards?), I have to say I am relieved. I had my reservations last August when Favre joined the Jets. I felt he could still play, but he was going to a team that was awful the season before he arrived. Early in the season Favre looked like old self. He flung the ball into tight spots, took chances. Some worked, some didn't and generally appeared to be a top flight NFL quarterback. Moreover, the Jets were winning. After 11 games the Jets were 8-3. New York was buzzing about the chance for a Jets-Giants Super Bowl. Then it all stopped. The Jets finished the 2008 season losing four of their last five games and missed the play-off berth that appeared to be theirs. Worse yet was how they lost, to put it bluntly, Favre was shocking. He threw nine interceptions in those final five games. Watching each of those games, I could see that Favre was whipping the ball hard but he was straining to put something on each pass. After the final game Favre revealed he had been playing with a bicep injury. The same injury that brings us to where we are now, a Favre-less NFL. It is a bit depressing to think of a league without Favre. You did not have to be a Packer fan to love his game. Most quarterbacks, even the stars, are efficient passers. Style usually does not come into the equation at the position. Favre was often equal parts style and substance. He threw the ball as hard as anyone. He would get in a jam and throw the ball left-handed, underhanded or any-handed he could conjure up. Favre once said on our radio show that he liked upping the degree of difficulty on the field because he sometimes got bored. He wanted to put himself in tough spots to see if he could find his way out. His legacy will not be the touchdown records or the yardage records; it will be the entertaining, reckless style in which he played the position for a long time. His legacy will also be his toughness. With the Packers, Favre began his consecutive start streak in 1992 and kept it alive until his first retirement at the end of the 2007 season. In that time Favre started 275 consecutive games. During that streak, the other NFL teams collectively started just under 400 different quarterbacks. As for his place in the pantheon of NFL quarterbacks, he is not better than John Elway or Joe Montana. Favre is in the upper echelon, but players like Elway and Montana just had too much team success in comparison to Favre. But if you asked me which quarterback I would most want to tune in to see play in his prime, that quarterback is Brett Favre hands down. I'm not alone. ppabst@thenational.ae