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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

Brett Favre walks off the field after a loss-clinching interception Sunday in the NFC Championship.

Begel: Favre shows why he is an American hero


I can't help but wonder what my life is going to be like without Brett Favre.

Someday I am going to wake up and he will not be around. Someday I will sit down to write a column, and Brett Favre is not going to be among the subject choices.

But not yet. No, sir, not quite yet.

The game was a classic but it felt really weird to find myself rooting for the Minnesota Vikings. I was watching the game with John Sieger and he remarked how odd it seemed for me to be cheering for Minnesota. But root, I did, and it was all because of Favre.

I'm going to continue to love pro football even after Favre leaves for good. But it's not going to be the same.

I hope all those people who have put Favre pictures on their dart boards watched this game. I am so sick of hearing those people, on talk radio, at online sites, readers who talk back to my column and belittle this man. Anyone who says "I told you so" has never played the game. They've never cheered for Audie Murphy or that little gymnast who did an Olympic vault with a broken ankle.

What we saw Sunday night was a genuine American hero. Flawed, yes, but a hero.

John Wayne. Lou Gehrig saying goodbye. Michael Jordan with the flu. Kirk Gibson.

Brett Favre stands there with all of them. And I don't care what the naysayers babble about.

The play after Favre got hurt said more about Favre than anything I'm going to write or that anybody is going to say. He was having trouble even standing up, but when the ball popped out of Percy Harvin's arms, Favre mixed it up trying to recover. He blocked and dived into the mess. He had absolutely no fear.

When they talk about an athlete leaving it all on the field, this is the guy they are talking about.

Sure he throws interceptions. Sure he is sometimes involved in a bobbled handoff. But he shows up. Game after game. Play after play. He was getting killed Sunday night, but he wasn't even close to staying down. Troy Aikman said it best.

"He always gets up."

It's impossible to list all the moments in this game when this quarterback proved over and over how special he is. His critics, feckless babies that they are, call him a drama queen. But that's not it. He is the king of drama. The football field is his kingdom, and everybody knows it.

Everything that is great about the world of sports can be found in this guy. He's got the skill. He's got heart. He's got a sense of humor. He understands the drama of the situation. He gives us thrills and he breaks our hearts. If he were an actor, they'd say that he fills the stage around him. He has presence. There is something magnificent about him.

He made a terrible throw at the end of regulation. A terrible throw. He needed to make a great throw because his team had fumbled chances to win down the drain. They dropped the ball and they needed a great throw, or even no throw. Just run or just fall down. But don't make that throw. You knew, however, that Brett Favre was going to make that throw. He was going to try.

However, if you have an ounce of sense or compassion, you love him in spite of that throw. Or maybe even because of it. Heroes don't need to be perfect. In fact, we love them even more when they aren't.

Maybe Favre is going to retire and stay retired. Maybe he'll come back. Maybe he'll waffle. Maybe this is the last time I'm going to write about how I feel about this man. If it is, I'm sad. We are all going to miss him a lot. A lot.

There aren't that many heroes around anymore. Not like this one.

Talkbacks

blu | Jan. 27, 2010 at 12:16 p.m. (report)

Favre did meet some of the criteria for being a hero in that game and at times he does exhibit some of the qualities of a hero; Ill give you that. At times, he is self-sacrificing, he does things for the greater good, and at times, he puts the needs of others before his own. Unfortunately though, his behavior over the past few years has been anything but heroic. Not only has he been incredibly selfish by putting himself before the team in most all instances, he dropped the ball on another important criteria for being a hero which is being Noble. Since its well documented that he outright lied to the Jets about retiring to get out of the contract to play for the Vikings you have to question his character. Moreover, its a shame that as a society we are so desperate to label people as heroes that well go as far as to selectively pick out qualities to further that argument while ignoring anything that proves otherwise. What a superficial way of making someone into what we need them to be.

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captain | Jan. 27, 2010 at 10:32 a.m. (report)

A Hero? Please! Without Reggie White he'd be the Charles Barkley of the NFL! Never won anything on his own! How can you call a QB great when he consistently plays bad in the biggest of games?

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corygrassell | Jan. 26, 2010 at 8:15 p.m. (report)

A hero wears a purple heart, not a purple jersey.

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Aaron Rodgers' Mom | Jan. 26, 2010 at 7:59 p.m. (report)

Game was so highly rated in viewership due to the HUGE amount of Favre NON Lovers that wanted to see the 'old gunslinger' appear. The hated Vikings, with a former Packer leading them, thinking they were invincible, had to deal with the reality of the hillbilly blowing another big game for his team. BOOM!

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LegallyBlonde | Jan. 26, 2010 at 3:34 p.m. (report)

I actually agree with Dave. Except the part about rooting for the Vikings. Favre is a Hero, he'll always be our hero.

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