The Gunslinger Leaves The NFL For Good. Adios Man. Thanks For Blowing Us All Away So Many Times!
There’s no place to begin with my Favre Farewell, other than at the beginning. I was a Packer fan back when it all started. Growing up in Wisconsin my dad put a helmet on me when I was 3, and started showing me how to explode off the ball.
So when 1992 rolled around, that was something like forty years into my history of awareness with the Pack. I had seen Lombardi on the sidelines in his long tan overcoat and horn-rimmed glasses, I had seen him standing there in person, in Milwaukee back when they still played there….and remember Paul Hornung wowing the crowd with his pre game field goal warm-ups which sailed 50 plus yards through the uprights.
Hornung was the golden boy and those were the golden years when World Champion seemed to be part of the Packer name, as you almost never heard them referred to as anything but The World Championion Green Bay Packers. But from the old dark frozen tundra Glory Years mess of muck, snow, bitter winds, overcast skies, from that point us Packer fans took a pretty severe beating….up until 1992.
Lombardi left the Ice Bowl frozen in our memories, and then a long succession of successors failed to succeed. If the Ice Bowl was the high point to that point, of having been a Packer Fan, the low point was when the fans in Green Bay drove over to head coach Dan Devine’s house in the 70s, and shot his dog, or maybe the low point was when Bart Starr took over the helm and got every one’s hopes up, and then that failed as well…with Lynn Dickey at QB.
But we somehow got to 1992, after thirty odd years of having hopes raised and trashed, with the glorious last four seconds of the Ice Bowl still frozen in our memories, along with the sunny victories at the very first two Super Bowls. That’s what we’d been living on for so long.
Suddenly, in ’92 though, there was this Holmgren guy, a big burly bearof a non stop motivational persona who had been instrumental in the success of Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice and so on, as the offensive co-ordinator in San Fran. He’d picked up a very young QB from the Falcons, a guy with a weird last name, a strange propensity for ‘happy feet’ you know where you stutter step indecisively in the pocket, and before I grew to love Brett I hated him, because at first, aside from the happy feet, he had a tremendous talent for cocking his arm to throw and dropping the ball behind him, getting tackled in his own end zone, or both.
But Holmgren embraced the boy’s wild enthusiasm for the game and became exactly the guru from the intellectual side of quarterbacking that he needed. Soon, the chemistry of raw talent, wild enthusiasm, an arm that could dislocate the thumbs and fingers of wide receivers with passes that spiralled with smoke, all combined with the best QB mind of all time and exploded again and again into more and more touchdown celebrations. Which gave way to the Lambeau Leap and then suddenly, a season in ’96 when more great stuff came together on one football team than has ever been assembled or will be assembled again.
Reggie White threw offensive linemen around like rag dolls, Desmond Howard ran punts and kickoffs back like their was no one else on the field with him, The Gravedigger dug a hole in the middle that offenses couldn’t climb out of, Don Bebe ran like the fastest white human that ever lived, Leroy Butler a free safety with deformed legs started blitzing like a man possessed, and of course there was Brett…no more happy feet now, but instead the gunslinging MVP that completed passes from everywhere to everyone…overhanded, side-armed, underhanded…to Sharp, to Bebe, to Chmura, to Brooks…he threw giant long bombs that arced in glorious perfection to land in the hands of fully striding WRs who simply extended arms and sailed into the end zone…short dump off passes, bullets that had to be dug out of the turf, screens, deep posts, corners, square ins….in some odd twist Favre, Holmgren and the team from the frozen tundra had heated up the West Coast offense to defense-incinerating temperatures.
The Super Bowl that year, number 31, was just one more glorious explosion of all that talent, enthusiasm and camaraderie, and the Packers under Holgrem with Favre and all those other guys too numerous to mention…..just kept celebrating touchdowns until, at the end, the sparkling shower from the confetti canons seemed more exciting and appropriate than it ever had been or would be again….carrying as it did a 30 year long held Big Bang of hopes and dreams for Packer Fans everywhere, all summed up in the wild burst of unbridled energy that always overtook Favre when the Packers scored.
Of course the career went on from the incredible number of uninterrupted starts and touchdown passes, records no one will ever touch, to the night he threw six TDs under the bright, hazy smokey lights on Monday Night while still reeling and in shock, and half the time with tears in his eyes, only a day or two after his dad died, the man who gave him his love for the game.
So that’s it for now. Adios, man. And thanks….is almost all I can say right now…except for this;
It might not be over yet, at least not in my imagination, because there, in that special football place on a beautiful sunny fall day, on the opening game of the season, you wind up back on the field in Green Bay, not wearing number 4, but dressed however you would as head coach. You won’t be exactly like any head coach anyone has ever seen before, you’ll be unshaven probably, maybe even wearing blue jeans if that doesn’t piss too many front office people off, but then again, if it does, so what, you’re the coach, right? The play calling might be a bit wilder than normal, but one thing the team, fans and everyone around you will have, is enthusiasm…because you bring that in a contagious way everywhere you go.
And then, the thing that will really set you apart as a head coach, will be what happens when the Pack scores…and you rip your headset off and run out onto the field signalling touchdown, like some wild out of control ref, with both hands raised straight up. Touchdown, Man! Green Bay! Yeah!