Sports Illustrated tells Favre's story

"Our heroes must never grow old," writer Jeff MacGregor says in his cover story on Brett Favre.

When you get done reading this, run to the local convenience store and pick up this week's Sports Illustrated. Brett Favre's on the cover.

It's the sixth SI cover for Favre. If you're looking for Favre to come clean on his playing future, you'll be disappointed.

Writer Jeff MacGregor chronicles Favre's season, from training camp through the New England debacle and Monday's loss at Seattle. MacGregor's focus is mainly on the vultures calling for Favre to retire, and what it's like for fans to watch an icon get old before our eyes.

To read the dour columnists this year, Huckleberry should be taking his first snap under center this season from the comfort and safety of his Medicare-approved personal scooter. Candy-apple red, perhaps, with a handlebar shopping basket, a bicycle bell, and an AARP bumper sticker that reads: I brake for grandchildren. Because, they say, Brett Favre — Huck Finn grown and now grown old — shouldn't be playing football. Our heroes must never grow old.

And yet here he is.

The Bipolar Romantic Disorder gripping Wisconsin could be described thusly: We love Brett. But we love him in inverse proportion to the number of INTs he throws. We love him, but not at the expense of rebuilding the program. We love Brett, but not at the risk of another 4-12 season. We love him, but this is Titletown, U.S.A., after all. Business is business. They'd all be heartbroken if he left them, of course; he's one of the best there ever was. He has brought them a decade and a half of winning, of honor and glory, of mostly wholesome excitement and family thrills and civic pride. A Super Bowl trophy. Three MVP awards. But that 4-12 season in 2005 was heartbreak of a kind too. And, well, sort of embarrassing.

Along with the usual drivel about Green Bay being pretty close to the North Pole and the city being populated by millions upon millions of cows, there is some good reading. Especially when MacGregor interviews Favre's wife, Deanna.

Q: Does the criticism of him bother you?

A: I do take it personally. Breleigh's in the second grade; kids come up to her at school and say, ‘Your dad stinks! The Packers stink!' She comes home crying. Brittany, the day after the New Orleans game, walked into one of her classes and the teacher — the whole class is sitting there, the bell rings, it's quiet — looks at Brittany and says, ‘Must be pretty bad if you let the Saints beat you.' Hello?

MacGregor takes a week-by-week approach, taking the proverbial temperature of Favre — and the sports world — after each win and loss.

Now 4–7 with five to play, there are hints and glimmers of the solid team they might one day become. And while their teeter-totter inconsistency is evident and their youthful progress slow, the ambivalence of Green Bay fans to their mythic quarterback hardens and softens from day to day and series to series and play to play. They can't bear to see him go. Nor can they bear to see him falter.

We won't give away the ending nor MacGregor's final point. Near the end, though, MacGregor sums up the truth about Packers fans:

The story of Brett Favre's end was never just about him. It is about us.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.


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