The song, based on a poem penned by Robert Burns, is slurred during New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world because it signifies beginnings and endings. It was playing when Brett Favre broke down following the Packers’ 26-7 victory over Chicago on Sunday night.
During a post-game interview with NBC’s Andrea Kremer, Favre sounded like a man about to take off a football uniform for the last time.
"If this is my last game, I want to remember it," he said, plunging ahead with his voice halting and tears welling in his eyes. “It's tough. It’s tough. I'm going to miss these guys and miss the game. But I just want to let them know that. I love to play the game, love these guys, love to compete. And it just shows.
“Is this it? We'll see. I don't want to say anything right now… For us, it was a great win. I couldn’t ask for a better way to go out.”
Though Favre, his wife, Deanna, and coach Mike McCarthy would later say that no decision final decision had been reached, it was hard to watch that interview and envision him back for a 16th season in Green Bay.
McCarthy, who has stated repeatedly that he wants Favre to come back, bristled a bit when asked about Favre’s future during his post-game press conference. But, he did reiterate his earlier comments.
"If you talk to some of the players who've had the opportunity to walk away from the game on their own, you'd like to walk away with 'gas in your tank,'" McCarthy said in his televised post-game briefing. "And like I've told him already, his gas gauge is well over three-quarters. He's got a lot left in his tank."
McCarthy preferred to talk about his team’s four-game winning streak, improved defense and special teams and the 8-8 record that left the club within shouting distance of a playoff berth. But, the Favre question overshadowed Green Bay’s crisp play in what amounted to an exhibition game because neither team could gain anything with a victory.
The Bears head into what will be a difficult bye week with quarterback issues of their own. Rex Grossman was horrendous Sunday night and backup Brian Griese wasn’t a lot better. This is a team that has enough talent on the roster to win a Super Bowl, but likely won’t because of a glaring gap at the most important position on the field.
Packers fans may be compelled to snicker at the Bears’ plight, but they should also know that a similar situation may arise in Green Bay the moment Favre does decide to hang up his uniform forever.
"I've always felt like I could still play at a high level,” Favre said to reporters after the game. “I think today just kind of reassured me - as well as maybe other people - that I still can play. If I'm going to play, I'd like to play it at a high level. Today I did."
If Favre is finished, he’ll likely go down as the greatest player in Packers history and one of the all-time greats in the history of the league.
“As I look back at my career and talk to guys that have played this game, you don't really think about particular games or plays as much as you (remember) the plane rides, the bus rides, the locker room, the practices - the stuff that you think you'd never remember,” Favre said. “And as I look back at my career, that's what I think about the most: The guys I played with.
"Individual stats are great, but when it's all said and done, those type of things are what they are - statistics. It's the guys that you play with and that's what I'll remember the most."
Here is a look at some of the numbers Favre has compiled during his career. In a few weeks, we'll find out whether the numbers are final.
237 -- Consecutive regular-season starts (257 including playoffs), a record for quarterbacks. More than 200 quarterbacks have started in the NFL since Favre began his streak in 1992.
414 – Touchdown passes, six shy of Dan Marino’s record of 420.
12 – Years in a row that Favre threw at least 20 touchdown passes (he had 18 this season).
Seasons with 20-plus touchdown passes
1. Brett Favre, 12, 1994-2005
2. Dan Marino, 10, 1983-92
3. Peyton Manning, 9, 1998-2006
4. Len Dawson, 6, 1962-67
5. Tom Brady, 5, 2002-06
NFL's all-time completion leaders
1. Brett Favre, 5,021
2. Dan Marino, 4,967
3. John Elway, 4,123
4. Warren Moon, 3,988
NFL's all-time touchdown pass leaders
1. Dan Marino, 420
2. Brett Favre, 414
3. Fran Tarkenton, 342
4. John Elway, 300
NFL's all-time interception leaders
1. George Blanda, 277
2. Brett Favre, 273
3. John Hadl, 268
NFL's road touchdown pass leaders
1. Brett Favre, 202
2. Dan Marino, 197
3. Fran Tarkenton, 169
NFLs all-time QB victories
1. John Elway, 148
2. Dan Marino, 147
2. Brett Favre, 147
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.