Favre’s clock winding down, as is the chance to see him play

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 8, 2005

[12/8/05]

He has rewritten the Green Bay Packers’ record books, won three NFL Most Valuable Player honors and guided his team to a Super Bowl victory.

So on Dec. 19 when the Packers take on the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football it would be wise to tune in. The amount of time we have left to watch Brett Favre play quarterback is quickly diminishing.

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Considered an afterthought at quarterback coming out of high school in Hancock County, Favre has proven his doubters wrong at every turn. He played quarterback at Southern Miss, got into as much trouble as any average college guy does, and got drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons.

Coming out of college, Favre was the guy with a rocket for an arm, but a guy who lacked the structure of an NFL quarterback. His razzle-dazzle underhand passes, throwing into triple coverage and making plays that would make coaches cringe led the Falcons to trade Favre to Green Bay for what now seems like $5 and a bag of peanuts.

In Green Bay, he and then-coach Mike Holmgren orchestrated one of the best team turnarounds in NFL history. The Packers reached the Super Bowl in 1997 and 1998, winning the first over the New England Patriots.

Favre became a household name, and with each mention of his name his Mississippi roots became more apparent. He grew up in a country family, rode four-wheelers and went hunting. He found alligators in his swimming pool and the favorite watering hole in the tiny town of Kiln was a joint named &#8220The Broke Spoke.”

The man has not missed a start at quarterback since his debut with the Packers and now ranks fourth all-time in consecutive starts at 219. Think of the beatings he has taken. Think of the hits he’s absorbed. Makes one cringe thinking about it.

Yet he has started through pain, the death of his father, his wife’s breast cancer and several family tragedies. He’s the guy who signs a big contract and you mutter, &#8220Yeah, he may be worth it.”

This year’s team is mired in a 2-10 season. Their ground game is non-existent and defenses are teeing off on him. The chance of the Packers improving so drastically in one year is, frankly, unrealistic. And so are the chances of him playing next year.

Favre owns a home in South Mississippi and it should surprise no one to see him go there for a while. If we are lucky, he’ll play his final four games of this season like he has every other one – with passion, determination, a willingness to win and the guts to take chances on the field most quarterbacks would scoff at.

The season will end and Favre, 36 years old and with 14 years playing QB in Green Bay, will make a decision those who have followed his rise from Falcons’ bench warmer to three-time MVP have dreaded for a long, long time.

It’s time to walk away.

My money is on retirement, so I will make it a mission to watch one of those four remaining games. The Packers are not going to the playoffs and as it looks, only one of those games will be televised nationally.

Monday, Dec. 19 in Baltimore. Not only will you be watching one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but also the final hours of the Monday Night Football dynasty on ABC.

But that is another column, for another day.