Monday, December 13, 2010

My favorite football player, Brett Favre, failed to start a football game tonight for the first time in 18 years. On September 20, 1992, Favre entered for the Green Bay Packers at quarterback for an injured Don Majkowski, and started every NFL game since until tonight. A record 297-game streak for non-kickers. Favre is not only in the conversation for the greatest quarterbacks ever, the streak is comparable, and in many ways superior, to Cal Ripken's consecutive starts streak in baseball, which, if memory serves, stands at 2632 games. I would barely care about football if not for Brett Favre. He's one of a very few that I have to watch, just to see what will happen. Even when he fails, it's ridiculously exciting. When he was in his prime as the 3-time consecutive MVP in the mid-to-late '90s, I hated him, in a manner of speaking. The Packers walked around with a swagger, led by General Favre. And then Green Bay faced my favorite team, the St. Louis Rams, in the 2001 playoffs. Favre threw 6 interceptions that day, badly losing. I knew my feelings had begun to change when I wasn't happy at all. No true fan of sports wants the greats to play poorly. Perhaps it was the year after, when Favre made his 200th career start at Lambeau Field, also against the Rams, that I changed my opinion entirely. He crushed the Rams on Monday Night Football--and I was happy. After Mrs. Favre lost a family member in an ATV accident, and was diagnosed with breast cancer, these people had become more than sports personalities; they were real. And then, Brett's father Irv died of a heart attack 2 days before Christmas, and the very next night, Favre led the Packers in a rout of the Raiders on Monday Night Football. What was that score, 41-3? 4 TDs, no picks, 399 passing yards. I decided then I was a fan. He's not a perfect man; surely Mrs. Favre's biography could tell us that. And the old man's indecision about retirement the past 5 years annoys many. And this generation of football reporters and announcers has laid the veneration on a little thick. But we forgot him in the Era of the Quarterback. And now that he is about to leave us for the last time--the man of 41 has said this is truly it--those who nearly missed him are a bit nostalgic. You can count me among them. Manning is great, Brady wins, and Drew Brees is the unheralded champ. But Brett Lorenzo Favre is the prototype. To paraphrase one writer who stopped following another sport when a legend retired, when Favre retires, I don't care about football. Don't even show me a box score.
Viruses destroyed my computer, so I was gone for a time, but we're back now. Anyway, I had the occasion to be a little sad, maybe a bit selfish yesterday because a woman that I've had some affections for got engaged. [You're in love with everyone.--ed.] Fair enough. But it brought to mind a pop-country song called, "Just To See You Smile." Consider these words:

Just to see you smile
I'd do anything
That you wanted me to
When all is said and done
I'd never count the cost
It's worth all that's lost
Just to see you smile.

And yesterday I knew just what you wanted
When you came walkin' up to me with him
So I told you that I was happy for you
And given the chance, I'd lie again.

[Me talking] I felt that sting a bit, but I reflected on it a bit longer, and I realized, by God's grace, that I didn't have to lie. Even if it never arose because I wanted her to be happy, (which I do) I could still be happy because God is about to show his love to the world through these people, ready or not. I can honestly say that even I'm not selfish enough to scoff at that. Triune God, be glorified in all things, and grant us your grace, that we might not stand in your way. I pray this through Christ, Amen. Timothy understands, don't you, Tim? The subject of the song, the one I wrote, that's her.