For most professional athletes the end never comes easy. This is most certainly the case for Brett Favre who will likely leave Green Bay bitter and angry. This is in stark contrast to the scene just a few months ago when Favre “retired” with tears in his eyes after 16 mostly spectacular years with the Packers.
But as big of a star as Brett Favre was and is – he is the NFL’s only three-time MVP and the league’s all-time passing yardage and touchdown passes leader – he is no different than other superstar players at the end of their careers. Let’s look back at a couple of former star quarterbacks who were as big if not bigger in their times as Favre is today.
Thirty-five years ago it didn’t end gracefully for Johnny Unitas, the Baltimore Colts icon, who at the time was considered football’s greatest ever quarterback. In the end, Unitas played, if that’s the word for it, his last games in a San Diego Chargers uniform. Unitas a Charger? How unseemly. But the Baltimore Colts judged rightly that Unitas was no longer a star and at nearly 40 was not close to the player he once was. The time had come for the team to move in a different direction. But Unitas wanted to play on. So he was forced to go to San Diego where sadly he played just like Baltimore thought he would – poorly. The end came for the great Johnny Unitas and it was not pretty.
The end was not nearly as undignified for Joe Montana, but still Montana was forced out of San Francisco in order to make way for Steve Young. Rather than sit the bench behind Young, Montana went on to play several pretty good years in Kansas City. But damn, Joe Montana, the epitome of cool and money, was nonetheless forced to live out his NFL years with the Chiefs. It didn’t seem right that one of the best players of all-time had to play somewhere other than with the team that made his career. But the point is it happens to every great player.
Now the end has come for Brett Favre. It could be said that he brought this on himself. And that would be true – he did in fact announce his retirement – which caused Green Bay to start looking at life without him. And yes he truly was great, and truly was loved in Green Bay. But what Brett Favre, the fans and everyone else need to realize is: eventually someone else gets the love. Like death – getting shuffled out – is inevitable. Sad but we do move on – all of us.