Favre's return good for football world

PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh describes how important Brett Favre has become to the National Football League, and how his entertainment value is higher than ever.

"Back home we call that a good ol' goodin.'"

That line uttered by Brett Favre years ago on a golf course to describe a well-hit golf shot is a prime example of what makes him so endearing to legions of fans around the nation. He is simple and basic, yet hard to ignore. He is unpolished and rough, yet as professional and stand-up as any in his business. He has a game that, like his home-spun terminology, is all his own.

Basically, Favre is just plain entertaining though he would probably not think of himself in that way.

So it should come as no surprise that Favre stole headlines last week, two days before the Super Bowl, informing the Packers of his return for a 17th NFL season (16th in Green Bay). His intention was not to grab the spotlight, but as a major attraction of the football-watching nation, especially in Green Bay, his every move is big news.

Favre may be the biggest celebrity in football. After all, why are such trivial details like terminating his country club membership and power-washing his driveway considered newsworthy? Because people want to know everything they can about Favre – what he is thinking, doing, and what he will do next.

At an age when most quarterbacks morph into shells of themselves, or have already retired, Favre, 37, is as big as ever. Sure, he may not have the statistics, or the skills he once possessed, or the talent around him, but he still can play. When the right time to exit the game presented itself a little over a year ago, after the Packers finished off a 4-12 season, he came back. Now it looks more likely that he will play two more years. Only injury or a decision by the Packers can stop him.

Inasmuch as his consecutive games played streak, his touchdown passes, and his total wins have cemented his place among the great quarterbacks, Favre is a star more for his playing style and personality. He has remained true to his roots.

When former Falcons' coach Jerry Glanville often referred to Favre as "Country" and former Falcons' wide receiver Andre Rison once called him a "redneck," Favre could have been offended, but instead he embraced those references. Though life and football has dealt him some adversity and tough times, at his core, Favre has remained the same. He is honest and will-driven, two qualities that go over well in Titletown.

Even if Favre regresses next year, fans will be sure to witness more Favre-like moments. At some point next year, he will celebrate a touchdown with Donald Driver by throwing the energetic wide receiver over his shoulder. At another point, he will throw an underhand, backhand, shuffle, or flip pass for a completion. He will also make fans cringe by throwing into coverage, only to redeem himself with a rocket pass for a touchdown. And he will stand up to any defensive lineman or linebacker even if that player is much bigger and stronger.

Now what other quarterback does all of that? And at 37 years old? Keep looking because No. 4 in Green Bay is the only one.

Favre even has the power to make a meaningless game meaningful. When the NFL moved the Packers-Bears regular season finale from a noon start to a NBC prime-time Sunday night game, probability suggested the game would not mean anything in the NFC playoff standings. Games in previous weeks had been moved to Sunday night to involve teams with playoff possibilities, but the odds were that by Dec. 31 at 6:30 p.m. (Central time) the playoff brackets would already be determined. None of that mattered, though, because the league's focus was on Favre playing in what could have been his last game.

Favre delivered the type of high drama that night that could not be duplicated by any other game with playoff implications, or any other New Year's Eve party for that matter. Though the Packers found out they were indeed out of the running for the playoffs by kickoff, it was awfully hard to tell. They played their best game of the year and in the process were a reflection of Favre. They had fun and played hard and inspired when they really had no reason to do so other than for their own pride.

When it was over, Favre took pictures with teammates and broke down in a live post-game interview. People read into his reaction and thought his career was over, but really it was more a sign of maturity and reflection. In that moment, Favre realized just what an unbelievable ride he has been on, and it is not about to stop.

Whether the news came down by a phone call, email, or Internet browsing, anyone with an interest in Favre probably found out about his return within a half-hour of the Packers finding out the news. It probably stopped the work day for some, changed the mood of others, and even moved the Super Bowl hype to the back page for a day. While fans have seen Favre throw more interceptions and incur more losses in the past couple of years than they are used to, they really just want to see him play again. They want to witness a few more of those football-variety ‘good ‘ol goodins' because those are the ones that make him the most popular Packer ever.

Matt Tevsh

Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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