Fun finally finds way to elude Favre

Quarterback wisely makes an audible to retirement, says PackerReport.com's Doug Ritchay

The news of Brett Favre's retirement surprised me, and many others, because of how the team played this past season, how he played and because Favre's last pass was an interception.

With the Packers being a favorite to reach the Super Bowl in the 2008 season, it seemed likely Favre would return for one last hurrah, and attempt to leave with a better memory than losing the NFC title game at home to the New York Giants. As it turns out, Favre's last hurrah was the 2007 season. No need to get sappy and go through Favre's all-time hits. Others are doing it and, quite frankly, there's not enough time to go through the list.

But after watching Favre's retirement press conference, I understand better why he's leaving. He knows he can play and he knows this team is good, but there's one thing missing. He wasn't having fun. Favre talked about the time he put in to studying game film and it wore him down mentally.

"There were numerous Saturdays (before) home games where I was here at 8:30 at night watching film," Favre said. "I had never done that before. It was never enough for me.

"And Deanna (his wife) knows this, after numerous games I would come home and after a couple of hours I had 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, 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."

Favre always had fun on the field, but if you don't have a balance in your life, and are just all about your job, you're going to grow tired of your job. That happened to Favre.

Seems silly somebody would get tired of playing in the NFL, but it wasn't game day, it was every other day during the season.

Favre even said he could handle the offseason. He just started feeling the burden of being Brett Favre. It was like he was chasing his own shadow.

"Brett Favre got hard to live up to," Favre said. "And I found myself during games at times, tough situations, people always kind of made this joke or other guys on the team, even (coach) Mike (McCarthy) at times would turn to me and say, ‘All right, Brett. This is where you're at your best. Pull us out.'

"I'm thinking, ‘Uh, … ' Now I wouldn't do that, but I'm thinking that. I'm thinking, ‘Boy, it sure would be nice to be up about 14 right now.' It's just hard. It got hard. I did it, but it got hard.

"I don't think it would get easier next year or the following year. It hasn't up to this point. It's only gotten tougher, and something told me, it's gotten too hard for you. I could probably come back and do it, suck it up, but what kind of a toll would that take on me, my family or my teammates?

"At some point, it would affect one of those, if not all of them. Maybe it has already. I don't know. I can't speak for my teammates, but maybe it's affected my play. If I even question for a second that toll that it has affected at least one play, then it's time to leave. You can't second-guess any decision you make on the field or wonder did the pressure or stress get to you. I think if you're starting to question that at all, then it's probably time to go."

To Favre's credit, he took this route because he wanted to win so badly. He didn't want to leave any stone unturned in the pursuit of another Super Bowl title.

Strangely enough, Favre talked about a return next season could have taken a toll on his family, but his family maybe could've saved him. If he was living with Deanna and his daughter, Breleigh, he may have had an out on weekends and after games to relax a little more.

However, they were in Mississippi, leaving Brett in Green Bay alone. So instead of looking at four walls all night, Favre would watch film at Packers headquarters or at home.

Everybody needs balance in his or her life and Favre lost that last season. Although he was playing at a Pro Bowl level, he wasn't enjoying the season as much because he basically draped himself in football 24/7.

That's no way to live and Favre knew it. So his best answer to rectify the situation was to retire and move on to the next chapter in his life.

Packers fans, football fans and sports fans lost an incredible competitor this week, but Favre is leaving on his own terms and the best thing about it is he knows he can still play. He wasn't pushed out the door or his talent wasn't eroding. He was still a top quarterback in the NFL, and that's the way he should be remembered.

He retired with something left which makes his end tough to accept. Still, he made the right call, something he did for 16 seasons as a Packer.

Doug Ritchay is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at dritchay@sbcglobal.net.


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