Thanks for everything, Brett Favre

Jeff Russ

My phone rang yesterday about 10:30 a.m., and the last connection to my childhood officially left.

“Dude favre retired.”

It was a text from my brother. Brett Favre was his all-time favorite player when we were growing up. On his side of the wall in our bedroom hung a Favre jersey along with a giant collage of photos that we cut out of the newspaper and magazines. We also had a Brett Favre mini-football.

I remember watching from my grandparents’ house when Favre and the Parkers won the Super Bowl. We were so happy to watch him run around the Louisiana Superdome with the trophy while confetti came from the sky.

My entire football life had Brett Favre in it. One of the first games I remember watching involved him. It was 1993. I was 6-and-one-half years old. It was a playoff game between the Detroit Lions and the Packers. I remember this guy in a green jersey running around the pocket, throwing the ball deep and celebrating.

Now, I liked football. I loved watching the Buffalo Bills and Jim Kelly. I always went to high school games, but I really didn’t know what I was watching. But when I watched this guy running around, throwing the ball deep and celebrating, I knew I liked what I was watching. I knew I liked Brett Favre.

When the Browns moved away, Favre provided all of us in the neighborhood with a favorite team. He became our hometown hero. The Ohio State Buckeyes had John Cooper and teams that blew it every season against Michigan. I was too young to really remember the glory days of Bernie Kosar. Art Modell could have stolen my young football life when he took the team to Baltimore, but in retrospect he provided my brother and me with an opportunity to watch the best player of our generation every Sunday, instead of Eric Zier and Vinny Testaverde.

Not too long after that first Favre moment, I was spending the night at my best friend’s house and we were making an athlete hall of fame. Neither of us knew how to pronounce his name or spell it, but we both voted Brett Favre into our athlete hall of fame.

Looking back, I was only 6 at the time. Now, I am almost 22 years old. That friend is married, and I never see him anymore since I live in Kent and he is still in Canton.

I played basketball in the driveway, threw a Packers football around and cheered for Brett Favre when I was 6 years old. Fifteen years later, I am pursuing my dream life, I drink alcohol and sugary cereal is disgusting to me.

The only thing that was the same from the time I was 6 to now: I was cheering for Brett Favre. My favorite team will always be the Browns, but by the time I got over the Browns blowing a shot at the playoffs and Indianapolis cheating the Titans in the post season, I got swept up in Packers fever again.

I sat at home during the NFC title game in Green Bay. I watched Brett Favre thinking he was going to get one more chance to win a Super Bowl for my brother and me. I cheered when he celebrated in the snow against Seattle in the playoffs. I cheered when Favre high-fived referee Pete Morelli during the regular season. It was a sad moment when Favre threw that interception in the game against the Giants. At the time, I knew it would be his last pass in an NFL game. I sighed, not only because I was going to be late to my own party, but because the last connection to my childhood was over. My best friend had just got married; I had come to the realization that I would never live with Mom and Fad ever again; I suddenly hated Lucky Charms cereal and now Brett Favre was done playing football.

But I don’t blame Brett. He had 17 years in this league. Seventeen of the best years of my life. Alongside my first kiss, getting a drivers license, getting a first car, my first day of high school and college, Monday Night Raw and graduation – Brett Favre will always be an important part of my childhood.

After I read my brother’s text, I thought about that teal wall in our bedroom with a Favre jersey, Favre pictures and a Packers blanket. I thought about how my brother did a report on Vince Lombardi because he loved the Packers. I thought about watching Terry Bradshaw on TV and asking my Dad what he was like as a player. I thought about my future son or daughter watching a pregame show and asking me what Favre was like. I’ll tell I could not have grown up without Favre on the TV and Pat Summerall and John Madden calling the game.

No one else could have made me late to my own party. Goodbye and thank you Brett Favre.

Contact sports editor Jeff Russ at [email protected].