Emotional Favre gives Pack one last word
By: By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Once again, Brett Favre tried to reach down deep for whatever it was that allowed him to put aside the pain and find his rightful place under center in 275 straight games for the Green Bay Packers.
It wasn’t there any more.
So Favre put a strong arm around his tearful wife, Deanna, and walked off the stage — presumably for good.
Favre confirmed his retirement in a news conference at Lambeau Field on Thursday, choking on his emotions as he spoke.
“I’ve given everything I possibly could give to this organization, the game of football, and I don’t think I’ve got anything left to give,” Favre said, two days after the Packers announced his intention to retire. “And that’s it. I know I can play. But I don’t think I want to.”
Favre leaves the game with a Super Bowl victory, virtually every quarterback record worth having and the widespread admiration of his peers and fans.
He said he has no regrets and nothing left to prove, but did admit to having a “knot the size of a basketball” in his throat as he pondered his final day as a Packer.
Wearing an untucked, collared shirt, jeans and several days’ worth of stubble, one of the toughest men in a tough man’s business could only spit out a word or two at times before pausing to gather himself.
Although he spoke for a little more than an hour, Favre struggled just to get through the first minute of his opening statement, words he tried to piece together as he sat by himself on a plane ride from his home in Mississippi to Green Bay that morning.
“I promised myself I wasn’t going to get emotional,” Favre said, taking a deep breath. “It’s never easy.”
But Favre also flashed his playful sense of humor, admitting that he spent part of Wednesday night watching his career highlights on television.
“I realized what it’s like to die,” Favre joked.
But he was dead serious about his decision: He’s finished with football.
“It’s been a great career for me,” Favre said. “It’s over. As hard as that is for me to say, it’s over.”
Favre is convinced he could still play on Sundays, but had lost his passion to practice and prepare the way he would need to lead the Packers to another Super Bowl. He insisted that, not a rift with Packers management, was the reason he was hanging up his helmet.
Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, hinted this week that Favre’s decision might have been different if Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy had worked harder to talk him into coming back or had signed free agent wide receiver Randy Moss.
Favre went out of his way to deflect blame from Thompson and McCarthy, both of whom attended the news conference and sat immediately to Favre’s left along with his wife.
“None of those things have anything to do with me retiring,” Favre said. “That’s from the heart.”
Instead, Favre thanked the Packers for letting him play.
“I hope that with every penny they’ve spent on me, they know it was money well spent,” he said. “It wasn’t about the money or fame or records. I hear people talk about your accomplishments and things. It was never my accomplishments, it was our accomplishments.”
Favre is the NFL’s only three-time MVP, and leads the league with 442 touchdown passes, 61,655 yards passing and 160 career victories.
He started 253 consecutive regular-season games, more than any other quarterback in history. Including the playoffs, his streak stands at 275.
Favre also holds the more dubious mark of 288 interceptions — an indication of the wild streak that only made him more human to the fans who adored him.
The same was true of Favre’s highly publicized struggles with an addiction to prescription painkillers, his support of his wife through a battle with breast cancer, and a memorable Monday night game against Oakland after he lost his father.
Favre said his regular-guy persona helped him build a bond with fans.
“I think people say, ’You know what? Death does happen to Brett Favre, and Deanna Favre. Cancer does happen to them,”’ Favre said. “It’s not all about making a lot of money and being on TV all the time. There’s more to it than that.”
Favre’s exit comes after a remarkable resurgence last season, but his final pass was one to forget: An interception in overtime of the NFC championship game against the New York Giants, a mistake that set up the field goal that sent the Packers home instead of to the Super Bowl.
Most folks figured Favre couldn’t leave on such a sour note, especially when he had at least one more good year left in him.
So his decision came as a surprise to executives, coaches and teammates. And it was a shock to fans who sat patiently, year after year, while Favre flirted openly with retirement — because, of course, he never really meant it.
Now, suddenly, he’s gone.
“I’m going out on top,” he said. “Believe me, I could care less what other people think. It’s what I think, and I’m going out on top.”
Favre doesn’t have a plan for retirement, other than to rest.
“Honestly, we both are really tired,” Deanna Favre said.
And while Favre admitted he’s almost certain to have second thoughts once the Packers start playing without him in the fall, he said he’s never coming back.
“I’m not up to the challenge anymore,” Favre said. “I can play, but I’m not up to the challenge. You can’t just show up and play for three hours on Sunday. If you could, there’d be a lot more people doing it and they’d be doing it for a lot longer. I have way too much pride. I expect a lot out of myself. And if I cannot do those things 100 percent, then I can’t play.”