Favre says heartfelt good-bye to football

Brett Favre officially announced his retirement from football today at Lambeau Field. PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh was there, and offers his perspective on the legendary quarterback, and his decision to walk away.

Even after Thursday's heartfelt press conference, there will continue to be a faction out there that believes Brett Favre will play football again. That even at 38 years old, he is still too good, will miss the game too much, and could well compete for a Super Bowl next year.

In a way, all of those points are valid.

Then there is the perspective that only Favre and legends of his kind know - the dealing with demands of time, the constant spotlight, and the increasing pressures of being mentally ready to compete every year for every game.

In the end, those things proved to be too much for Favre to continue on.

Fighting back tears at the beginning of over a one-hour press conference to officially announce his retirement from the Packers and the NFL, Favre tried to explain himself. He was questioned on whether his ultimate decision had anything to do with how the Packers organization dealt with him, on his former team's lofty prospects for 2008, and why he would retire if he thinks he can still play.

He essentially answered all those questions with a familiar theme. Like Forrest Gump after a cross-country run, he is just tired.

His answer is completely understandable and should be good enough for the doubters who think his tiredness will wane with time and make him reconsider his decision.

"I've given everything I could possibly give to this organization, to the game of football, and I don't think I have anything left to give," said Favre. "I know I can play, but I don't think I want to."

Listen, Favre is human even though he may not seem like it. As much as 275 straight games played in the NFL seems almost mythical, it is nothing compared to the challenge of continually playing the role of legend. Favre found himself in that inner-struggle as much as ever this past season.

"This year, and this is not the first year, but it really to me and Deanna (his wife) was noticeable, the stress part of it," said Favre. "It's demanding. It always has been, but as I've gotten older, I'm much more aware of that. I'm much more aware of how hard it is to win in this league and to play at a high level. I'm just not up to the challenge anymore. I can play, but I'm not up to the challenge."

Favre said at times this year that more than anytime in his career he became more of a cerebral quarterback. He beat teams with his mind more than his skill. Much more was asked of him in a dynamic passing attack implemented by head coach Mike McCarthy, and it paid off.

Though he never exactly said it, Favre could have naturally questioned deep down inside, at this stage in his career, whether he could beat opponents athletically in an increasingly athletic league. That likely led to him trying to beat opponents with his mental preparation this year, an enormous undertaking for a player in his 17th season.

"It was more the in-season strain," explained Favre. "And Mike (McCarthy) knows this, there were numerous Saturdays, home games, where I was here (Lambeau Field) at 8:30 at night watching film. I'd never done that before. And it was never enough for me. Deanna knows this, after numerous games, I would come home, and within a couple hours, I would have the computer out and I was watching film of the upcoming opponent instead of enjoying the win we just had. At some point, you've got to relax and enjoy it and I found myself not enjoying it as much. It's fun to win, but you've got to enjoy it and relax a little bit. That, more than anything, was taking its toll on me."

While Favre has appeared to enjoy his charitable endeavors immeasurably, they, too, have taken somewhat of a strain on him.

Said wife Deanna: "It's been very rewarding to be part of this community and to be a part of the charity work going on because it always seemed like a team effort. The people here are very appreciative, grateful, for everything we've done and I hope we'll continue in some form or another with our charity work here, but I don't think it will be the extent it has been.

"We have decided to take a break from all events this year, so the softball game we normally have in June we won't have. I know that will disappoint a lot of people, but honestly we are really tired right now."

Favre has always been more of an introvert living in an extroverted world. While he enjoyed the spotlight, he never really embraced it. He knew it was just part of what he became and dealt with it – until now. It finally caught up with him.

Making a decision to all but remove himself from anything football or anything Green Bay for now is a good move. Favre needs to get as far away from football as possible and find his new purpose in life, which he says he is not yet sure of.

Because he has been seriously debating retirement for at least the past five years should be reason enough that he is convinced there is no turning back – even if the "bug" to play should strike him in the next couple of months.

"Believe me, I've questioned my decision. I believe it's the right decision. And there's nothing that they (the Packers organization) can do or say to change that," said Favre. "They can make me wonder. But I think that's part of it. But once again, I think it's the right decision. It's a hard decision. I know for the last couple of years, I mean, I'm sure there a lot of people who said, ‘Finally. Good or bad, he made a decision.' Believe me, it was hard. Very hard. Because that decision is made don't think I won't question it. But that's life. For people who've never had to make a decision like the one I've had to make, I can't begin to explain to you how difficult it is. But I made it and I have to be at peace with that."

He will in time because he now knows it is truly over.

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

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