I was shocked ... as were many other people, when I heard about your retirement plans. You had your best overall season in 2007 since the MVP years. Your Green Bay Packer team was young and getting better. You and the Packers came within a whisker of the Super Bowl. You still had the howitzer for an arm. Your mobility wasn't what it once was, but it was good enough to elude most pass rushes. You were named starting QB for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. You finished second in the MVP voting. That's why your retirement is so shocking.
This is what you said to Chris Mortensen from ESPN in his voicemail..."I know I can still play," you told told Mortensen. "But it's like I told my wife — I'm just tired mentally, I'm just tired. Physically, I feel OK, I can't complain about that, but the stress of studying every week has gotten to be a bit too much. And the more stressful it got — I'm always trying to top what I did the previous week. If I felt like coming back — and my wife and I talked about this — the only way for me to be successful would be to win a Super Bowl. To go to the Super Bowl and lose would almost be worse than anything else. Anything less than a Super Bowl win would be unsuccessful.
"I know it shouldn't feel unsuccessful, but the only way to come back and make that the right decision would be to come back and win the whole thing, and honestly, the odds of that are just tough. Those are big shoes for me to fill, and I guess it was a challenge I just wasn't up for. This is not about the Packers, it's not, and who they got or who they didn't get. I get along fine with Ted the GM, I get along great with Mike the coach. Do I agree with them all the time? No. But the bottom line is, none of this stuff affected my decision. As far as what Bus (Cook), my agent says (about the Packers not trying to change the decision), Bus is like my dad, he sometimes says things out of emotion and in some respects it might be true, but that's not what's driven me to retire."
I certainly hope after more deep reflection, that you may reconsider. Yes, it's true, Packers fans want to see you and the Packers in the Super Bowl again, especially after the great season in 2007. But you shouldn't have to put that type of pressure on yourself week after week. Just keep being Brett Favre. Keep having the kid in the candy store attitude every time you step on the field. You are a joy to watch, in good times and in bad. But the good times surely outnumber the bad times in your illustrious career.
But you also have to look back on the 2007 season and smile. Under Mike McCarthy, you have obviously improved. Your completion percentage of 66.5 was the best of your career. Your seven 300-yard passing games tied a career high, and your 4,155 passing yards (third-best of his career), 95.7 passer rating (third), 15 interceptions (tied for third) and 356 completions (fourth) were among the best marks of your 17-year career. Add to that, all of the all-time passing records that fell and now belong to you. You now have 160 wins as a starting QB, which is now the best all-time mark, 12 games better John Elway's 148. 160 wins over 16 seasons. Think about that for a minute. That's 10 wins a year for 16 straight years on average. Truly amazing!
You also added to your unbelievable consecutive game started streak by starting all 16 games in 2007 and adding to your astronomical amount of 253 games started consecutively. That's now 275 games if you include the playoffs. Plus, even with the interceptions in the Giants game, you threw five TD passes to just two interceptions in the playoffs this year with a QB rating of 99.0 over the two games he played.
You also now have the all-time TD pass record (442) that used to belong to Dan Marino (420). You also now are the all-time passing yardage leader as you now have thrown for 61,655 yards in your career, which topped Marino again, who threw for 61,361. You are also the all-time leading passer in attempts (8,758) and completions (5,377). You actually set the completion record last year, before adding to it this year.
I'll know the NFC North opponents were happy yesterday when word came out the you were retiring. You are 22-10 against the Chicago Bears. You are 23-9 against the Detroit Lions. You are 17-14 against the Minnesota Vikings. You also have won seven NFC Central/North titles. The Bears have started 20 quarterbacks since you started your unbelievable starting streak (253 games, 275 including playoffs) on Sept. 27, 1992. The Lions have started 15 different QBs. The Vikings have used 12 different signal callers.
But you have done so much more. You helped the Packers bring back the Lombardi Trophy in 1997 after winning Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans. A city about a hour from your childhood home in Kiln, Miss. You made another Super Bowl appearance as well the following year. Many of us still believe that you should have won your second ring that day, but the Packers were outcoached that day, in my opinion. You won three straight MVP awards. Still the most ever. But a lot of Packers fans think of another memory.
No time was more emotional for you than Dec. 22, 2003. That was the day after your dad Irv had passed away after suffering a heart attack. You decided to play that night in Oakland for your father, and also for the dad who coached you in high school. What you did that night was simply incredible and heart warming. Despite playing with a heavy heart, you threw for 399 yards and four touchdown passes in a 41-7 Green Bay victory. America cried and laughed that night, but one can bet that Big Irv had a huge grin on his face in heaven. I'm sure he was very proud of his son.
The memories are so special. Like September 20, 1992, when you first became the legend you are in the thrilling 24-23 win over the Cincinatti Bengals at Lambeau Field, when starting QB Don Majkowski was injured. Your frozen rope to Kitrick Taylor for a TD with just seconds remaining was the start of something special. The next week you started your first game as quarterback of the Packers against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau. You haven't missed a start since.
There was also the playoff game after the 1993 season where you hit Sterling Sharpe with an across the field bomb with 55 seconds left in a 28-24 win over the Detroit Lions in the Silverdome. Or the game in 1994 against the Atlanta Falcons at Milwaukee County Stadium. The last Packer game ever played there. You scrambled with no time outs and decided to run as you dove into the end zone in a 21-17 win that put the Packers in the playoffs again.
It all came full circle this year again, as you lead the Pack to several thrilling wins. The ones that stick out to me were the wins over the San Diego Chargers early in the year at Lambeau, the Monday night thriller against the Denver Broncos at Denver and the win over Kansas City the next week at Arrowhead Stadium. On all three occasions you used a second year wide receiver named Greg Jennings as your deep threat to win the games.
Plus, there were the four NFC Championship games. Or the two Super Bowl appearances. The 7 divisional titles. You led the Pack to 11 playoff seasons. You had only one losing season in your 16 years in Green Bay. You and the Packers were on Monday night football an incredible 33 times. You were selected to 9 Pro Bowls. The three MVP awards.
You were terrific on the field, but you grew to be a terrific man off the field as well. You came to Green Bay as a carefree partier that liked to pound a few beers with your teammates and friends. You overcame an addiction with Vicodin. You stopped drinking completely.
You became the ultimate family man as you and your lovely wife Deanna have two wonderful daughters, Brittany and Breleigh. Just like when Deanna was there for you when your dad passed away, you were there for her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and your support helped her beat that terrible affliction. You were also by her side when her brother Casey Tynes was killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident. You both also had to deal with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina as your family home in Kiln was destroyed.
Yes, I know you are tired. More mentally than physically. But I hope after some more reflection and after talking to folks like your former and current teammates, plus other friends like Steve Mariucci and others, that maybe you could change your mind in the next 48-72 hours. You also need to speak with Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy again, as there definitely appears that there was some disconnection there, especially with Thompson.
God willing, you have more than half of your life to live now. There will be plenty of time to work around the Favre estate in Mississippi. There will be plenty of time to cut the grass. I don't want you to end up like your friend Reggie White and try and come back after a year off. And NOT in Green Bay, but in Carolina. The same thing happened to Vince Lombardi as he took a year off from coaching to recharge his mental batteries before he went to Washington. I would rather see you ride off like another Wisconsin icon, Al McGuire. Announce that the 2008 season will be the last drive of your career.
That's why the next 48-72 hours are so important. You can still come back I'm sure. Both Thompson and McCarthy said at the press conference yesterday they want you back. But if this doesn't get rectified soon, then the Packers are moving on with the Aaron Rodgers era. I also know that you think that winning the Super Bowl next year will put a ton of pressure on you. Don't feel that way. The Super Bowl would be nice, but just having you lead the team one last season would be enough for most fans.
The fans of Green Bay and the nation would love to see you play one more year. Just one more year. It would let everyone know that this is the definite end of the road. People can be prepared. That's why people are puzzled now. You came back after a 4-12 season after 2005. The 2007 team was MUCH better at 13-3, a NFC North title and a spot in the NFC Championship game. But nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. You have said that many times.
The only guarantee in the NFL the last 16 seasons was that you were going to be lining up under the center for the Green Bay Packers. And like you said to Mortenson, you feel fine physically. I just hope you can recharge the mental batteries, with some help from your teamamtes, friends and your bosses in Green Bay. I hope your decision can change in the next couple of days.
If not, you will surely be missed. You will go down as the greatest player in the history of the Green Bay Packers. We will see you in Canton, Ohio in five years. But try to make it six years instead, because you certainly don't want to leave anything behind before you get on with your life after football. Just think about Reggie and Vince. Two other Green Bay legends that stepped away from Titletown too soon.
Bob Fox is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.