"Seems like just yesterday we were here," Favre said to begin. "Well, I think we all know why I'm here. First of all, sorry I'm late. But I am officially retiring from the NFL and the Green Bay Packers, and as much as I've thought about what I would say, and how ... I promised I wouldn't get emotional ... it's never easy ... you know, it's funny, I've watched hundreds of players retire, and you wonder what that would be like ... you think you're prepared ... but I was telling Deanna on the way over here, God has blessed me with so many great things. Ability, wonderful family. And as I was flying up here today I thought about so many different things and how I wanted to say some of the things that I felt like I need to say, but he gave me an opportunity to use my abilities, and I seized that opportunity ... I thank him for that."
Favre struggled getting those words out, pausing several times with his voice cracking and tears welling in his eyes. But the words that really made his retirement final were these, "I've given everything I possibly can give to this organization, to the game of football, and I don't think I've got anything left to give, and that's it. I know I can play, but I don't think I want to."
That was as direct as Favre could say it. Favre has done everything a quarterback in the NFL could possibly ever do. Favre holds most of the NFL passing records including touchdown passes with the 442 he has thrown, has won 3 MVP awards, been named to 9 Pro Bowls, won 7 divisional titles, led his team to the playoffs 11 times, won the most games ever as a QB with 160 wins, played in 4 NFC Championship games, played in two Super Bowls and won there once raising the Vince Lombardi trophy in 1997.
But the record that everyone will always talk about is the 253 games (275 including playoff games) Favre started in a row over a span of 16 seasons. He finished strong as well in 2007. Favre's completion percentage of 66.5 was the best of his career. Favre's seven 300-yard passing games tied a career high, and his 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 his 17-year career.
Favre also led the team to a 13-3 record and another NFC North title. Plus, a berth in the NFC Championship Game losing in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champs the New York Giants.
The success of the 2007 Packers made Favre's decision tough.
"This is a good football team, and I think I could be sitting here next year saying, I could be pulling a Tiki Barber - what if," Favre said. "But you know, that's the chance you take. I've been to the Super Bowl, been fortunate to play on some great teams. Once again, I have no regrets and there are no guarantees."
Favre also thanked some key people with the Packers that helped him achieve his success. "I can't leave without saying thanks to Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren for giving me a chance when no one else would," Favre said. "I'd like to thank Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson, Bob Harlan, Tom Clements my recent quarterback coach, Darrell Bevell. Mike was my quarterback coach in '99. Andy Reid, Marty, ... Steve Mariucci, Mike Sherman, Ray Rhodes, Tom Rossley, and I could go through so many different names and players and seasons. It's been everything I thought it would be, and then some."
Favre also dispelled some rumors about why he may have quit prematurely. "I know there's been comments and issues in the press lately about why I'm leaving, whether or not the Packers did enough, whether or not Ted and Mike tried to convince me to stay," Favre said. "None of those things have anything to do with me retiring, and that's from the heart."
Favre felt he had done everything he could for the Green Bay organization and the Packer fans, and he hoped they felt the same way. "I'd like to thank the Packers, for giving me the opportunity as well," Favre said. "I hope that every penny ... I hope that every penny that they've spent on me, they know was money well-spent. It was never about the money or fame or records, and I hear people talk about your accomplishments and things ... It was never my accomplishments, it was our accomplishments, the teammates that I've played with, and I can name so many. It was never about me, it was about everybody else. It just so happens the position I played got most of the attention. But the Packers have been, ... it's been a great relationship, and I hope that this organization and the fans appreciate me as much as I appreciate them."
Favre also appreciated the names he was being linked with within the illustrious history of the Packers. "To be thought of as one of the best players to play in this league, and to be mentioned within an organization that has players like Reggie White and Bart Starr and Paul Hornung and Willie Davis and Willie Wood and Herb Adderley and Jim Taylor, Ray Nitschke, Vince Lombardi," Favre said. "To be mentioned with those people, ... I'm honored. Really ... I am honored. I hope everyone knows how special this is and I truly appreciate the opportunity, and as they say all good things must come ... come to an end."
The press conference lasted over a hour and after Favre regained his composure, he was as witty as ever. Things like what he was wearing for his retirement announcement. Favre simply said, "I thought about wearing a suit. I really did. I thought about shaving. But, what you see is what you get. And I hope that I never change. I don't think I will."
No Favre never really did change on the field. He was always a gunslinger that took chances that no quarterback would ever dare to. "It's a game and I played it spontaneously," Favre said. "Nothing was ever choreographed. And I've always said this: The money they pay is icing on the cake. It had no bearing on the way I played. I played the game regardless a certain way. And I hope that's what people appreciate about me."
Off the field Favre did change a lot. Favre came to Green Bay as a carefree partier that liked to pound a few beers with his teammates and friends. Favre overcame an addiction with Vicodin. Favre married his long time girlfriend Deanna. Favre stopped drinking completely. Favre became the ultimate family man as he and Deanna have two wonderful daughters, Brittany and Breleigh.
The family will get a lot of his time now. No more mini-camps. No more training camp. No more Sundays playing like an 8 year old kid in a candy store. Favre still hasn't quite figured out what he will do. "There really isn't a plan," Favre said. "I know that this place and what it's meant to my career is really special, and to think that I can find something to replace that and feel the same, I'm no fool. I know there's nothing out there like that."
Favre will certainly do the chores around the Favre ranch near Hattiesburg, Miss. like he always has. You can bet he will be on his lawn mower a lot. But it will be tough to replace 16 seasons of memories. But he knows he did enough in the NFL. "I've done everything there is to do, and then some, and then some," Favre said. "I would have liked to have won more Super Bowls, but you know what? I'm not disappointed about that. I gave it my all. I think people who know me know that."
Though Favre will live in Mississippi full time, he will never forget the fans in Wisconsin. "I can't leave without saying thank you to the fans," Favre said. "When I laughed and when my family laughed, they laughed. When I cried, they cried. When I cheered, they cheered. When I threw an interception, well, you know. But it was a perfect fit for me."
Favre also had some advice for Aaron Rodgers, the man who will try to replace the legend. "I wish Aaron well," Favre said. "I think he'll do a great job. I think he has the talent." But Rodgers has to be his OWN man, just like Favre was. "I know everyone's made comments that, 'Boy, big shoes to fill,' " Favre said. "The only shoes he has to fill is himself. He doesn't need to play like Brett Favre. It's all about the cast around you, it's about the coaching staff. If you stay focused on the fact that it's not about you - they obviously drafted him because he has the talent, mental capabilities - he'll be fine. Hopefully one day he's sitting here where I am and able to experience what I've been able to experience."
Favre will leave the game relatively healthy considering his astronomical starting streak over 16 seasons. He is definitely leaving on his own terms. And after one of his finest seasons. He will not limp away from the game as heroes before him had. Players like Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Namath and Bart Starr. With them, the legs were gone, or the arm was a shadow of what it once was. Favre never had to endure that. The howitzer arm was still his biggest weapon. And although the mobility was not what it once was, Favre was still nimble enough to elude pass rushers.
The press conference ended at about 12:42 pm Green Bay time, more than an hour after it started. As it ended, Favre, with his arm around his wife Deanna, headed toward the door. He would spend some more time at Lambeau Field that day visiting with Packer employees, plus coaches and teammates who were there for the occasion as well. But by 2 pm, Favre was flying back to Mississippi. Favre arrived around sunset in Hattiesburg later that evening. It was very apropos ending for Brett Lorenzo Favre, as heroes always seem to leave in that scenario.
Bob Fox is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.