After 17 Seasons, Favre to Hang It Up
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Brett Favre told Green Bay Packers officials yesterday that he is walking away after a 17-year career in which he established himself as one of the most prolific and charismatic quarterbacks in NFL history.
Favre, 38, had pondered retirement in each of the last few offseasons but chose to continue a career that's sure to land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even when it seemed as if his best days as a player might be behind him. He reversed the downward spiral in his play this past season, recapturing the exuberance and daring success of his younger days and leading the Packers to the doorstep of another Super Bowl appearance.
That resurgence on a youthful team created the expectation that he was likely to return next season. Instead, he informed Packers Coach Mike McCarthy by telephone Monday night that he would retire and reiterated that plan in a phone conversation yesterday morning with General Manager Ted Thompson.
"I just think it's a decision that he has constantly wrestled with in terms of trying to make the right decision and leave at the right time," Thompson said at a news conference late yesterday afternoon at the Packers' offices. "And I believe he thinks this is the right time for him."
Favre told them he didn't have the energy or willpower to gear up for another season that would have been considered a failure if the Packers didn't finish it with a Super Bowl triumph. Barring a change of heart, he leaves the sport with three NFL most valuable player awards, nine Pro Bowl selections and two Super Bowl appearances, including one victory. He spent the last 16 seasons with the Packers and leaves with numerous NFL records. He also was the most durable quarterback that the league has seen with a record 253 straight regular season starts, 275 counting the postseason.
"Throughout his 17 years, he never lost that feeling of playing the game for the first time," former San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci, once a Packers quarterbacks coach, said in a written statement. "That's what makes Brett Favre unlike any other player I have ever seen."
The news took many by surprise, including Favre's coach.
"I thought he was going to play," McCarthy said. "Last week was the first time, of all the conversations we've ever had, that the word 'retirement' was ever spoken."
Former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who obtained Favre in a 1992 trade with the Atlanta Falcons, said he learned of Favre's decision from a neighbor in Florida.
"I was surprised when I heard it," Wolf said in a telephone interview. "But when I thought about it and heard what was said, it made perfect sense. Brett always played with a great deal of passion. If he didn't have it anymore, it was the correct decision."
Favre's agent, Bus Cook, suggested the Packers might not have pushed Favre to return. "Nobody pushed Favre out the door, but then nobody encouraged him not to go out that door, either," Cook told the Associated Press.
But both Thompson and McCarthy said they had made it clear to Favre that they wanted him back.