Brett Favre was the NFL’s ultimate iron man for 19 years, inspiring coaches and teammates with unparalleled toughness and thrilling fans with a daredevil’s verve and a showman’s sense of the moment.
Yet the once-irrepressible Favre never looked older or more fragile than in year No. 20. The magic of last season, and most of his brilliant career, never seemed farther away.
It had to end some time. And Favre says that time is now.
The 41-year-old quarterback sat out Minnesota’s season-ending loss to the Lions on Sunday due to a concussion, and it appears that perhaps the toughest man ever to play in the NFL had his career end not on the field trying to rally the Vikings to another victory, but on the bench as a third-string rookie floundered in Favre’s place.
No one — not even Brett Favre — can play forever.
“I know it’s time, and that’s OK. It is,” Favre said after the 20-13 defeat. “Again, I hold no regrets, and I can’t think of too many players offhand that can walk away and say that.”
He also retired in 2008 with the Packers and 2009 with the Jets, only to return to the field both times when the football bug bit him in the summer. He knows that there will be doubters again.
“I don’t know for me if it’s ever easy,” Favre said. “I’m sure throughout this year, the comment has been made that, ‘We’ll wait and see in August or September,’ and that’s fine. It’s time. I’m OK with it.”
If this indeed is the end — for real, this time — for Favre, one of the most colorful and celebrated careers in league history concluded with a season filled with interceptions, injuries and insults.
He was picked off 19 times this season, and his 69.9 quarterback rating is the lowest of his career. The Vikings sunk to the bottom of the NFC North after starting the season with Super Bowl aspirations, coach Brad Childress was fired during the season, and Favre was fined $50,000 for failure to cooperate with an NFL investigation into allegations that he sent lewd photos and messages to a game-day hostess when both worked for the New York Jets in 2008.
Favre’s reputation took a serious hit from the humiliating scandal, which tarnished the image of one of the league’s most popular players.
He declined to comment on the fine after the game.