The End of an Era – Part 1

Brett Favre

Unless you’ve been tucked away in a hole the past week, you’ve likely heard (repeatedly) that Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre has retired from the NFL. And unless you happened upon this post by random chance, you know that I am a die-hard cheesehead and, when cut, I bleed green and gold. As such, it’s been a sad week in the Litscher household.

I love football. LOVE it. Early on in my childhood baseball (and the Brewers) had a firm grip on my heart-but there was still plenty of room there for the Packers. After the baseball strike of 1994, it was all football. Nevertheless, I have many memories of the Packers, pre-Brett Favre.

I remember when the Packers where terrible. Awful. When they couldn’t beat anyone and Randy Wright was slinging the ball around.

Tony MandarichI remember when we had the second pick in the 1989 draft and we selected a can’t miss prospect-Tony Mandarich from Michigan State. The Packers went on to a 10-6 record that year due to the combination of Coach Lindy Infante, Don Majkowski (The Majik Man!) and Sterling Sharpe.

I remember that all being a fluke. Mandarich did, in fact, miss. Lindy Infante was fine, but no genius. The Majik Man had no other Pro Bowl seasons. A new regime was coming.

I remember arguing with my neighbors about whether or not Sterling Sharpe was the best receiver in the NFL. He sure seemed like it with the new QB slinging him the ball. Some guy name Favre (but it was pronounced Farve). Had a rocket arm but threw a ton of interceptions. The Packers started winning though.

I remember the excitement when Reggie White joined the Packers. Perhaps the biggest free agent ever, it did a lot to show that the Packers were a team on the rise and that Green Bay was a good location for black NFL players. Others followed and the defense improved to match the offense. If only we could get past the Cowboys in the playoffs.

I remember Antonio Freeman’s amazing catch against the Vikings.

Brett FavreI remember the excitement when the Packers made it to Super Bowl, which they went on to win. My junior year of high school. We watched the playoffs at Brigitte’s dad’s house in Mayville. We watched the Super Bowl at ours. I remember going crazy when the Packers scored. I remember jumping up and down with my dad when they won. It was amazing.

I remember them flying through the season and the playoffs the next year. 11 1/2 point favorites over the Broncos. I worked at the movie theater the day of the Super Bowl. We had already indicated that we would be closed for the evening movies, but we had matin?e shows. Probably 50 people showed up that afternoon. You should realize, Titanic had opened 2 months earlier. I went to my girlfriends house to watch the game with all of our friends.

I remember Elway’s helicopter dive. And Holmgren letting them score so we could get the ball back. And us not scoring. And just like that, it was over and we lost. There was silence in that basement TV room for a good 10 minutes before we packed up and left.

I remember Holmgren leaving the next year and the forgettable Ray Rhodes season.

I remember living in Chicagoland during college and having to put up with Bear fans…and being thankful we had the Bear-slayer lining up behind center.

I remember when Favre’s dad died and he played the Oakland Raiders on Monday night the following day. I remember him slinging the ball like none other, just trusting that his receivers would bail him out (they did). I remember the Cardinals beating the Vikings while the Packers beat the Broncos on the last game of the season that year…sending the Packers to the playoffs. Mom and Dad and Kati and Josh were out for Christmas and we were screaming in the basement. It was destiny. We beat the Seahawks “We want the ball and we’re gonna score.” We were beating the Eagles…and then came 4th and 26.

I remember 4-12. And everyone saying Favre was done. Will he retire or won’t he?

I remember 8-8. And everyone saying Favre was done. Will he retire or won’t he?

I remember 13-3. And seeing vintage Favre. He wasn’t done. Not even close. I remember the records…they just kept coming. Wins. Touchdowns. Yards. Interceptions (fitting). He took the youngest team in the league and carried them when they couldn’t find an identity. And they carried him too. It was an amazing season. I remember being incredibly jealous that my dad was at the Snow Game against the Seahawks in the playoffs. The stumbling shovel pass. It was amazing.

And, I remember the next week too. The magic just wasn’t there. Favre didn’t come through when we needed him. It just didn’t happen. And that was that.

Everyone thought he’d come back, but I really didn’t. I was already preparing for LAF (Life After Favre) and while I was disappointed he retired, I wasn’t surprised. He just didn’t feel like he could live up to Brett Favre anymore. He felt like after this season, anything less than a Super Bowl win next year would be unsuccessful, and the pressure was too much. He just didn’t want to play anymore. I don’t blame him.

It was a great 16 years. I have had the privilege of watching one of the best NFL players of all time just about every week he played. And I’ll be thankful for that. This post has grown too long for everything I intended to say about him, so I’ll have to continue it in another one (this may be called “therapy” for some 🙂 ). Anyway, though I’ve seen this all week, I’ll chime in myself.

Thanks for the memories, Brett.

3 thoughts on “The End of an Era – Part 1”

  1. As a side job you should write a column. that was great. I DIDN`T KNOW YOU WERE JEALOUS.Wish you could have been there needling the seehawk fans behind me.

  2. What a great post! Made my tear up a little bit….or maybe it is just this baby making me act crazy! Either way I agree…thanks Brett!!!!

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